Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Giving Plot to the Plotless Part 3: A Whole New World

If you can forgive my Disney reference in the title, welcome back to Giving Plot to the Plotless, after what seems like forever. I’ve been… busy *Looks around suspiciously* More on why soon. But for now let’s continue with this little venture.

Anyone close to me knows how my creative process works, most probably because I zone out as soon as the process starts. The moment I get a tiny inkling of an idea I find interesting, my brain explodes and goes to work on it. 

And as I sat in my school library one day, thinking about maybe doing homework (as students sometimes do), I came upon one such spark of an idea: What if my friend and I were able to change the world and plot enough to make an entirely new book series based on what we had already written. After all, we’d spent so much time. Thousands upon thousands of words had gone into, essentially, experimental scenes that wouldn’t come to anything. Unless we found a way to make an original story out of it.

My brain took this as a challenge and accepted it readily, immediately going to work, riddling through all the elements that would need to be expanded and changed. Within an hour of sitting in the library, I had concocted a basic world and plot in which to fit our scenes into. It had a lot of holes and was far from complete but it was something.

I excitedly relayed everything I had come up with to my friend. We started getting together on weekends for massive brainstorm sessions to piece our cobbled together scenes into a cohesive world. And it was fun. Challenging but fun. It felt like dumping a 1000 piece puzzle of characters, plot points and relationships onto a pile on the floor and scrambling to put them all together to see the whole picture.
We got really into the world building aspect of our project. And let's be honest, it was fun. 

There are so many aspects to consider when shaping a world: history, culture, religion, dress, gender roles, geography, politics, leisure, and societal systems just to name a few. Where are the most important landmarks and locations? Do certain members of society have an advantage over others? Is this a corrupt society and why has it become that way? What are the visual aesthetics of the world? What historical events still hold the most significance over the present day? Why do people believe what they believe? 

This is just brushing the surface of world building, which I will probably do a post about on a later date. But you can see how involved we got in the world building process and how many details there were to consider, especially considering the number of scenes and characters we'd already established. After all, before one can fit something plotless into a plot, they have to fit it into a world. Without a living, breathing world, the characters and plot have no credibility. 

But it wasn't a one way street. We didn’t simply fit scenes into the world. The world created new scenes as it developed. With the change in venue, we ended up introducing whole new characters and concepts we hadn’t thought about before. Though we had about 300,000 words already written. We churned out another 200,000 words in new plot lines and extras written with our new characters. We rewrote old scenes in a new light. Took new pathways to expand ideas. And we started fleshing out the characters.

Of course, you always run into problems trying to make a world and new plot around already established characters. And the problems we experienced were of the relationship variety. Despite the affair our main characters had, the original pairings were still intact. A and T still ended up together in the end. So, did M and L. But as we continued to flesh out our new plot and world a little seed of doubt grew in the back of my mind. An analytic seed, fertilized by my years of reading and writing. And when allowed to grow long enough this seed resulted in one of the biggest changes to our magnum opus.

More on that in Part 4: The Big Switch

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