Over focusing problems!

One of the problems I have as a writer is that I seem to over focus on characters and the plot suffers. This also seems to be a problem in DnD where I focus so much on the character that I forget about everything else… or make 124 song long playlists for said character…

Now I know there are stories that are more character focused and stories that are more plot focused. But I’m just going to be talking about finding a balance because I think that even a story focused on characters needs to have a focused plot to keep the story moving forward, or even a plot of character development. Something must be happening at all times to keep the story moving forward.

So what does this mean for stories themselves? Well, it means that for me I usually have a grasp on the characters before I even know what is going to happen. I have an idea for a character before I know what should happen to them. For instance, I have a particular magic using character that has existed in my head for years and has bounced from story to story because I simply don’t know what to do with him. His magic abilities are awesome sure, but that doesn’t make for a good story.

So I’ve been trying to slowly move more towards a plotter style of writing where I create a very basic outline for what is going to happen in each story, and then, if I’m working under a word count limit, I’ll estimate how many words each of these sections will be. Here’s an example:

 

Sally and Ryan are going to school. It’s raining outside. (150 words)

On the ride to school, they see a group of strange looking people swarming the streets and realize they are zombies (300 words)

The zombies swarm the car and Sally and Ryan must flee the car to escape but Sally is scratched in the process. (200 words)

They take shelter in a bank vault where they begin to argue because Ryan thinks that Sally is going to turn into a zombie. (250 words)

Ryan, in a panic, strangles Sally and kills her (200 words)

Ryan then hears the sound of an army rescue team outside. He opens the vault and waves them down. (150 words)

Just as the army is arriving to rescue him, Sally rises from the dead and rips a chunk out of Ryan’s arm. (200 words)

The army opens fire, obliterating Sally and Ryan before leaving. (150 words)

 

Okay, now this is a quick and dirty run down and a totally silly little story but it’s a basic run down of what I am trying to focus on now. I need to get my head out of being so character focused and instead focus on making a wholly rounded story that includes a plot that is just as well-developed as the characters that are in that universe.

What tricks and things do you use to keep your plots and characters (and yourself) in line?

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2 Comments »

  1. Reanna Said:

    LOL! 124 song playlist for your character! That may be a bit much, but it’s also no fun to read something where you don’t know much about the character(s) and you aren’t sure why you should like them or dislike them–because you simply don’t know them. Sounds like your method gives your stories a good balance of plot and character development.

  2. Robby Hilliard Said:

    I am a plotter so this approach comes very naturally to me. The following is a very basic approach I use.

    At the story level, I try to have major plot points listed as well as opening scene and hook. So, it would look like this:

    Act 1
    Opening Scene (including hook)
    Plot Point 1

    Act 2
    MidPoint/Ordeal
    Plot Point 2

    Act 3
    Climax
    Denoument

    Then, for each scene within each act, I have a starting point (usually the question arising out of the scene or act ending conflict presented in previous scene) and a goal.

    Then I just write the scene not worrying about the number of words it will take. That all comes out during the editing.

    This bare bones outline does not list many of the story components that are required but those are documented in notes accompanying the outline. For a longer work, the outline becomes much more detailed as I go along.

    Robby


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