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How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?



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  #1  
Old September 4th, 2009, 10:16 pm
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How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

Imagine the plot is a horse, and you're the rider. You can choose in which direction it walks, or at what pace (e.g. a gallop). Every so often you tell it to trot up to keep the plot invigorated. When suddenly, you turn around the bend at an uncontrolled gallop, and the horse goes full tilt like it's on Speed.

How do you know when your plot has become too "out there" or far-fetched (even in fantasy)? What signs do you spot? How do you prevent yourself from the plot twist (or plain old plot) becoming so unbelieveable that even you are doing this: ?

I believe it's a sense of perspective and thinking how you would realistically react in this situation. If it seems too out there for me, then I make myself assume it might be a bit much for the readers too.

For example, I wrote one story (with, I admit, a few plots that were a bit far-fetched and galloping ahead like the metaphorical horse galloping out of control), that was set in Victorian England, where the main character meets Joseph Merrick (aka the Elephant Man). It would be too out of the realm of possibility, even for this naturally nice character, to, on first sight, think he's the hottest thing ever. (Even for a Mary Sue that's probably going to nuke the readers' suspense of disbelief to high heaven, unless it's a full-blown satire). But it's not outside plausibility for her to eventually come to know the gentle man he really was under the deformities, but that doesn't change his unusual exterior at all. Same as for any other disfigured characters whether fictional (e.g. Quasimodo), or actually a real historical person (e.g. Joseph Merrick).

Commmon sense also helps keep the plot from cantering out of control down the forest and over a cliff like a crazed horse with a rider barely holding onto the reins. If even you're thinking "Yeah right!", then so will your readers. If even you're thinking "I don't think anyone, even a psychopath, would really do this", then you're probably correct. Trust your brain: it's more intelligent than you think!



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  #2  
Old September 5th, 2009, 1:07 pm
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

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Originally Posted by Marina View Post

For example, I wrote one story (with, I admit, a few plots that were a bit far-fetched and galloping ahead like the metaphorical horse galloping out of control), that was set in Victorian England, where the main character meets Joseph Merrick (aka the Elephant Man). It would be too out of the realm of possibility, even for this naturally nice character, to, on first sight, think he's the hottest thing ever. (Even for a Mary Sue that's probably going to nuke the readers' suspense of disbelief to high heaven, unless it's a full-blown satire). But it's not outside plausibility for her to eventually come to know the gentle man he really was under the deformities, but that doesn't change his unusual exterior at all. Same as for any other disfigured characters whether fictional (e.g. Quasimodo), or actually a real historical person (e.g. Joseph Merrick).
For your character to have great sympathy and amazed at the gentleness within Joseph Merrick, his understanding when people were scared by his appearance, is a complete plausibility, as it would be backed-up by a real occurrence, ie. Merrick's doctor, who found, tried to help and got to know him well. I agree that looking at a situation and how people react or feel, can help keep things realistic within the story, rather than straining the reader's ability to disband disbelief, if you're using a real person from history.

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Commmon sense also helps keep the plot from cantering out of control down the forest and over a cliff like a crazed horse with a rider barely holding onto the reins. If even you're thinking "Yeah right!", then so will your readers. If even you're thinking "I don't think anyone, even a psychopath, would really do this", then you're probably correct. Trust your brain: it's more intelligent than you think!

Agreed! I would also add finding a proofreader/beta reader that you trust to read through your story with you. Sometimes something can be plausable, but it might be down to how the writer is communicating the situation to the reader, rather than the event itself or character themselves not being realistic. Sometimes the reader's interpretation and the writer's intention can be rather different. I've found a proofreader does help with this kind of thing.



Last edited by Annielogic; September 6th, 2009 at 12:12 pm.
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Old September 5th, 2009, 10:37 pm
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

the more far-fetched the better. reality is every day.


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Old September 5th, 2009, 11:12 pm
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

I think it's about the author creating rules that govern their world or characters and sticking to them. Like Terry Pratchett's Discworld is a Disc and runs on narrative and magic, etc, then ten books into the series he suddenly announced it was a sphere without explanation would likely cause confusion.

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the more far-fetched the better. reality is every day.
Reality as in emotions as an example, I think it helps the reader to relate, have sympathy and empathy with or love to hate characters. JKR does this, whether it be love, friendship, dealing with death, prejudice, bullying, it's all worked masterfully within the world she created. Imo.

It's wonderful to have a creative imagination, but I think what Marina means is to try and keep some constistancy within the context of the world and characters created. The writer still needs to be careful not to strain the reader's ability to suspend disbelief or completely throw them out of the story, by for example, changing a fundamental rule they created that govern their world or beings at last minute. Sometimes known as a deux ex machina.

If it's an historical novel or refers back to an historical event, it does add another layer of depth to the story if the writer can get certain situations as accurate as possible. Imo. Bernard Cornwell does this for the Sharpe series, which is brilliant. I highly recommend it. Set during the Napoleonic war, the battles, the way the soldiers fought whether rifleman, redcoats, dragoons, the Spanish, the French movements; it was all researched. Imo.



Last edited by Annielogic; November 6th, 2010 at 4:31 pm. Reason: typo
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Old September 6th, 2009, 12:16 am
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

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Originally Posted by Marina View Post
ow do you know when your plot has become too "out there" or far-fetched (even in fantasy)? What signs do you spot? How do you prevent yourself from the plot twist (or plain old plot) becoming so unbelieveable that even you are doing this: ?
You can write what you like I don't think there are any rules. You can write a "fantasy within realism" story - similar to the work of Alan Moore, and still maintain credibility. Its all fiction. As long as its well written, with a good balance and no confusion, but a decidedly themed book/story it will be credible - in my opinion anyway.


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Old September 6th, 2009, 9:34 am
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

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Originally Posted by Annielogic View Post
Reality as in emotions as an example, I think it helps the reader to relate, have sympathy and empathy with or love to hate characters. JKR does this, whether it be love, friendship, dealing with death, prejudice, bullying, it's all worked masterfully within the world she created.

It's wonderful to have a creative imagination but I think what Marina means is to try and keep some constistancy within the context of the world and characters they create. The writer still needs to be careful not to strain the reader's ability to disband disbelief, strain credibilty or completely throw them out of the story by for example changing a fundamental rule that govern the world or beings at last minute. Sometimes known as a deux ex machina.

If it's an historical novel or refers back to an historical event, it does add another layer of depth to the story if the writer can get certain situations accurate as possible. Imo. Bernard Cornwell does this for the Sharpe series, which is brilliant. I highly recommend it. Set during the Napoleonic war, the battles, the way the soldiers fought whether rifleman, redcoats, dragoons, the French movements; it was all researched.
I was in an anti-reality mood yesterday, and maybe still am today. Nevertheless, I do believe in deus-ex-machina-situations even in real life, for not all rules that govern the world are found yet.
Now, Im babbling. Anyway, I myself am annoyed when someone changes an accepted rule in a story (i just say polyjuicepotion).
Yet, what about a whole novel about deus-ex-machina situations??
If I was a writer Id trie that.


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Old September 6th, 2009, 11:44 am
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

It sounds like there is a fine line between a reader having a pleasant surprise and being delighted with a twist and the opposite of feeling a bit cheated.

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Originally Posted by Perlidia View Post
As long as its well written, with a good balance and no confusion, but a decidedly themed book/story it will be credible - in my opinion anyway.
That's what I think, and one way that seems to create confusion is by changing an established rule (that the author themselves wrote into their creation) at the last minute. Like Terry Pratchett's Discworld (love this series) is a world in that shape of Disc riding on the back of four elephants and a turtle that swims through space and runs on narrative and magic, etc. If he had then ten books into the series suddenly stated in the books it was a sphere as fact, without explanation, it would likely cause confusion.

Another example I've heard about that caused a lot of frustration/confusion was in the Twilight series when it was established all bodily fluids turn into venom in a vampire. Then in the last book the vampire biology 'rules of their existence' within the world Meyer created was suddenly altered. Which unfortunatley threw quite a few readers out of the story.

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Originally Posted by secunda View Post
Now, Im babbling. Anyway, I myself am annoyed when someone changes an accepted rule in a story (i just say polyjuicepotion).
Yes, that's the kind of thing I was trying to explain my own feelings about. See above about Twilight for other example. An author creating a certain rule within the context of their own creation, it's accepted as that is how that situation works "accepted rule", then if the writer changes it drastically, sometimes it's accepted, sometimes it isn't by the reader. I guess, maybe it's how well the change is explained that can make the difference.

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Originally Posted by secunda View Post
Yet, what about a whole novel about deus-ex-machina situations??
That's actually an interesting thought because you'd be creating the rules that govern your fantasy world run on deus-ex-machina situations.



Last edited by Annielogic; September 6th, 2009 at 12:22 pm.
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Old September 6th, 2009, 3:56 pm
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

there might be certain rules, but they would not be detectable.


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Old September 6th, 2009, 4:04 pm
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

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there might be certain rules, but they would not be detectable.
Chance, perhaps? Ooo, a personification of Chance, that is getting me thinking . . .


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Old September 15th, 2009, 12:39 am
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

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How do you know when your plot has become too "out there" or far-fetched (even in fantasy)?
When the character starts to seem out of sorts -- just not quite in character. As in the writing just not coming out right and that kind of thing.

Quote:
What signs do you spot?
Like I said before: If the character doesn't seem quite right, I do my best to set it straight. So the character seems more in character and not too out there and stuff.

Quote:
How do you prevent yourself from the plot twist (or plain old plot) becoming so unbelieveable that even you are doing this: ?
Good question. *scratches head * I just try to remember what the characters are like overall (if I'm writing a fan fic) and try not to stray too far from that; and if I'm writing something of my own -- I just try to stay within the boundries that I've set for them.


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Old October 15th, 2009, 3:45 pm
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

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Originally Posted by Annielogic View Post
It's wonderful to have a creative imagination but I think what Marina means is to try and keep some constistancy within the context of the world and characters they create. The writer still needs to be careful not to strain the reader's ability to disband disbelief or completely throw them out of the story by for example changing a fundamental rule they created that govern their world or beings at last minute. Sometimes known as a deux ex machina.

I think that's the key. There needs to be an internal logic. Even in fantasy stories, with magic and all kinds of beings and powers in them -e.g. Frodo needs help to destroy the ring; Gandalf can't just raise his staff and take down all of Sauraman's army; Arthur Weasley is simply not influential enough in the Ministry to become Minister.

Also, characters need to be believable - what they do must be consistent with what we already know, or suspect about them.

Even if events seem to come out of the blue, a huge twist, for example, the reader needs to be able to look back and spot hints that the author put in leading to this point.


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Old May 25th, 2012, 6:48 pm
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

Far-fetched is for reality. Unless you want to write a book where it is a normal man going through everyday troubles and tribulations, which I strongly DO NOT suggest, far-fetched doesn't register in the fantasy dictionary.At least, in MY opinion.(Which is exactly what you asked for)


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Old May 27th, 2012, 3:24 am
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

You have to keep it consistent with the internal logic of the universe that you've established.


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Old August 13th, 2012, 10:29 pm
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Re: How do you keep a plot from becoming far-fetched?

Sometimes when I feel my plot is getting far-fetched this is what I do:
Keep it simple and basic. I try to keep the plot really simple and than add on this and that interesting element. If I feel it still needs more zest, I'll add on a little more but I make sure that my plot isn't overflowing with too much 'stuff'.
My suggestion is tell a trusted friend/family member your plot idea and how you plan on fleshing it out. They'll be give you the best feedback.


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