I need your ideas!

A few days ago, I began writing a new story (somewhat based around dreams). This isn’t anything I intend to ever get published and is just for my own enjoyment, but the beginning has been coming along really well so far. The only trouble is, I’ve realised that the story is fast approaching a point where it will run out of plot! I thought I would ask you for some ideas.

Here’s the synopsis so far: The main character (MC) is involved in an accident where she breaks her arm. The man who ran into her is secretly a magician undercover from another world, and he heals her arm. However, in the process, some of his blood gets mixed with hers and she becomes “infected” (much like AIDS) by magic - which is like a virus - turning her into a magician.

The man’s colleagues, who are also magicians, discover that the MC is now a magician, and forbid her from staying on Earth for her protection. She is forcibly taken to the magicians’ world, where she must study magic properly. She learns that in addition to Earth and the magicians’ world, there are many other worlds, and the magicians routinely explore them all for research. After an appeal, the MC is accepted into an exploration team.
(End synopsis.)

This is the point I’m at now. My biggest problem is that my MC doesn’t have a goal (except vaguely to return to Earth at some point eventually). So far, there are no villains, and there is no reason to suspect anything sinister of any of the characters I’ve already written. I’ve racked my brains already, but I can’t think of what should happen next! I don’t need any help with ideas regarding the type of worlds that exist - I’ve got a hundred dreams I can borrow ideas from in that regard - but I’m completely stuck for a plot. Please help give my characters something to do!

hey, ST. :slight_smile:

that sounds good for an introduction, but what strikes me when i read your synopsis is that there’s no goal in the story so far. there are just so many chapters a story can have without the promise of an eventual destination. i mean, surely there’s no law saying that. but then it would have to have been your goal all along. what i’m trying to say is: it is not my intention to sound like one of those lecturers who get literary theory and throw it on people. “if it’s not like that, it is wrong.” no, by all means, you sure can have a story without a goal, knock yourself out.

now that i got that out of my way, let me start again. :slight_smile: as a storyteller, i find that it’s terribly difficult to both stay motivated telling a story and keep your audience motivated if you don’t have a given horizon to chase around. like i said, it’s not a vital thing, what you did so far was rely on a different kind of literary device — namely, fantasy — to keep people interested. now they’ve had enough of it to get used to the brave new world you’re describing, so they want something else. from where i stand, your story has a subject, her adjuvants, perhaps even an anti-subject, but it lacks an object, and without an object there can’t be any action.

something should happen when she gets in this new world. perhaps she doesn’t arrive at the same destination as the others (after all, she is a rookie) and now needs to figure out how to get back. perhaps she accidentally breaks some diplomatic protocol, reveals herself to the “muggles” (sorry, gotta use whatever vocabulary is at hand when you’re not a native speaker), put short: perhaps she gets herself in quite a situation. perhaps the magical power goes away (what? that could happen!) and now the other sorcerers have no use for her and decide to leave her in the alien world. or keep her as a prisoner for knowing too much. or something.

schematically: your story needs something, and that something is most likely a (capital-a) Action towards which everything converges. in order to have an Action, you first need an Object — to solve the diplomatic crisis, to find her way back home etc. of course, i’m giving you some rather simple pointers here. you can bring that whole Subject-Object thing to a whole new level. for instance: cut some bits from what you’ve written so far, so as to make it rather dreamy, make it all fit one chapter or a couple, and then jump to the Action in media res. for instance, MC wakes up at an alley, her clothes are dirty and she’s holding a bloody dagger. she’s no memory of anything up to the point she cast the transportation spell.

not your style? i’ll give you another such-as. you can skip to her being arrested in a sorcerer prison and explain from there. turns out she fell in love with a guy from another world, told him about magic (and thus started a crisis in the magical world), and now she needs to escape prison and find her way back to her beloved one.

too much Bourne Identity for your taste? here’s another one. she casts the transportation spell, but instead arrives at her own planet. it all seems to have been a dream but some weird stuff happens here and there. at some point she sees another sorcerer and her mind gets completely flipped. turns out they tried to erradicate her powers and make it all seem like a dream, but now magic is coming back to her and. come to think about it, scratch that, it’ll be really hard to keep motivation with that plot.

really, anything! Object. you need an Object. you need a big wide Action and in order to have an Action you need an Object. it’s all about giving MC a point in the horizon, towards which she and the reader (and you) can all walk.

I dig what your ideas are, but I agree with Bruno. The piece doesn’t exactly have direction, a motive. Now, I love Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy series and it has very little motivation in it. But then again, that is rare for a book I’d say. The reason the reader continues reading Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the humour of Douglas Adams.

So, to reiterate what Bruno said with an example, I will continue. Here: I always had a large amount of trouble coming up with a thesis for an essay I had already written and needed to combine with the thesis of. Like, writing a book on bikes, and needing an argument to justify the essay in the first place, with the thesis being the most important part of the whole essay. Motivation is what makes the reader continue reading, as Bruno has so eloquently said already. So, for your next story, think what drives the character first, and then fill in the details. I am one to talk though, I have never wrote a story in my life, although I have read a fair few in my day :wink:

I already know this - it’s the whole point of this topic. Why do you think I’m asking for plot ideas?

I appreciate the good intent, but I need specific ideas rather than a course on how to write. Believe me, I have plenty of experience writing both academically and with fiction. If brainstorming on my part could fix it, I would have come up with something by now. No, I need some outside inspiration.

As for Bruno’s ideas - I like them a lot. Unfortunately, a key feature I want to include is that the magician’s world is a utopian society (and very academically focused, hence the research and exploration), so I can’t think of too many things that could go wrong. Unless, of course, there’s a secret dystopian society lurking underneath it all - that could be promising! I’ll have to think a bit more along those lines. Maybe the magicians are keeping all the dissenters captive in some sort of slave underclass and the MC stumbles upon it… great! I’m having new ideas now! Thanks so much! :smile:

By the way, I love the Bourne Identity - you could never give me too much of it for my taste! I don’t think it fits with the current story (at least not yet - it could work later on, perhaps), but I’ll keep it in mind.

How about this…

The woman goes on her exploration of another world. While on this journey she discovers that the people at power there, are a threat to earth’s civilization. Learning of this threat she tries to get the magicians to help her stop the people from harming earth. But, due to the way the magicians are treated by the people of earth, they are not willing to help. They tell her to stay out of it, and embrace her new home. But, having lived on earth all her life, she cannot. So, she along with maybe, one or two friends who have come to live in the magicians world the same way she did, strike out to develop a plan, and save the people of earth.

I know it sounds lame but I thought I would give it a try! Good Luck :content:

in that sense, also bear in mind MC wasn’t brought up in the utopian society. :wink: it takes getting used to, i suppose. the diplomatic catastrophy i suggested goes along those lines: she does something which to her is fairly trivial, but which in an ideal society where things are more regulated is just downright apalling. and of course, wherever there’s an utopia, there’s marginalia somewhere, being swept under the proverbial rug. she can just stumble upon the, well, the bad apples. :slight_smile:

i’m having a hard (but fun) time trying to come up with ideas here, because i’ve read your stories, and they’re not the kind of thing i come up with. i like them. but it’s not the kind of thing my imagination brings me on its own. :smiley: well, lets see. utopia, research… well, a more light-hearted plot i can think of is, she goes on research with the other sorcerers, to a society in the middle of a very serious conflict. perhaps a civil war, or i don’t know, bloody thunderstorm with demon creatures, genocide, dragons taking over, what have you. she wants to save them, but she’s not supposed to do anything because she’s there on research.

that’s a bit of an exaggeration of that “diplomatic issue” thing i had suggested. in this case, her every nerve is screaming “to hell with protocol, lets save these people!” and they say “no we cannot, we’re suppose to just observe and learn”. this is a good exercise on the limits of utopia, and ethics in general, but at the same time its lighthearted to the point that kids and adults would profit the same from hearing this story… and if you will, we can now have an underworld in the sorcerer utopia: MC tries to do what she perceives as The Right Thing To Do ™, and ends up jailed. and there she meets the other jailed people, or shall we say, the less-than-utopian part of the utopian society. hrm, wait. now i’m thinking like me again.

Hmmm, this could work. I’d have to change it a little to fit in with what I’ve currently got, but it could work. And if I combine it with Bruno’s most recent idea (which was the best yet), it could definitely work.

Which reminds me, Bruno: That last idea was fantastic! It would fit in almost perfectly with what I’ve got. I think you must understand the way I write quite well. :smile: I think this solves my ideas problem - thanks! The one thing I would change is the “jail” part - the magicians don’t need jails, they’re too perfect for that. :razz: Instead, all the people who don’t fit in would be exiled somewhere, perhaps to a rather inhospitable world. :content:

/me bows to ST.

well not necessarily inhospitable either. they could go Inca all over the place and just send MC somewhere “generally” else. with bunches of exhiles. (something like Australia in its “exhile” days — where people actually end up building a crazy cool civilization).

& yes, i tend to read your stuff (way) more often than i write back a comment. as with everybody else in this forum, but your dreams and garden posts in particular, yeah.