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The Do's and Don'ts of Plotting

xx The Do's and Don'ts of Plotting
Jun 03, 12, 02:43:36 PM by Jamie

While I was working on my earlier blog post How to Plot I had brainstormed a section for it called the “Do’s and Don’ts of Plotting”. This section took on a life of it’s own and in writing “How to Plot” I realized that I had to separate them (or I would end up with a novel).

The Do’s!

  • Do consider ways to overlap groups in the plot to create a new arc that fits the concepts of the groups and/or characters. This filters up to so many levels and involves lots of people! (ex. Spies/Ramparts overlap in Dharo)
  • Do understand the difference between the characters that you NEED to have Adopted (or made PC) and those that you CAN simply create as NPC.
    • Characters that you should consider making NPC are:
      • Characters with one dimensional plot - A character only connected to one character and doesn't have a strong leg to stand on without them, would be a NPC.
      • Common Example: Family members.
    • Characters that can be Adopted:
      • Plot strong characters. Any characters that can plot with more than one plot important character and carry a story line of their own.
        • Example: Court Characters
      • If a character exists in a one dimensional field but someone has a muse to breath second and third dimensions of life into the character then it can be adopted; but if, as a stand alone, it is only one dimensional it is best written as an NPC so that it does not box in any potential writer.
      • Examples of making it work: Child of a current Playable Character
        • When he/she should be adoptable: If he/she will be around other characters that may want to deal with them. I.e. the child of a ruling character where the Court has many PCs. Also to be honest, any child that doesn't have a compelling reason to act beyond their age would need likely a Dark jewel to be interesting if not a child of another PC. That is my honest opinion though.
        • When should not be: The character is too young (below 5 years of age). The child would not be feasible to be around many PCs at the same time and/or the PCs wouldn't care much about the child beyond high level interaction.
        • It all boils down to if you can see other players want to playing with the child, but I think that is true for many NPCs. Ask yourself: "If I made this character, who would I be role playing with? What types of threads would I do?"

  • Do use those Likes, Dislikes & Fears! Take massive advantage of your Craft Weaknesses! Throw your character up against something they're not equipped to handle. Then make them learn how to handle it.
  • Do find characters in your Territory whose traits complement your character's, either positively or negatively. A rivalry relationship can drive a lot of plot.
  • Do remain flexibile with your character concept and plot so that if there are opportunities to derivate from your course to explore a new path they are not missed, overlooked or ignored!

The Don’ts!

  • Don't create a plot that boxes you into one arc (this also means avoiding adoptions that do that!). If you cannot brainstorm a way out of that arc and to provide alternative plots avoid the character.
  • Don't create Wanted Ads that do not account for ability to have multiple plot fronts.
  • Don't offer random one dimensional suggestions with no support or room for growth and adaptation!
  • Don't open threads with no plot basis. Sometimes we’re so excited to write that we do not think a concept through to the finish. Sometimes these threads are fun and you can derive plot out of them. Someone wandering through the streets and stumbling upon a random character for interaction is dull and usually fizzles out before it can go anywhere for a lack of interest; and there are only so many ways to open those threads before they become repetitive. Someone wandering the streets while pickpocketing and accidentally running into the wrong person for the right plot reasons is far more interesting!
  • Don't post for the sake of posting. Sometimes characters die off or need to be retired. Sometimes the plot no longer supports them. You either need to re-conceptualize them or release them. Our Inactivity policy does allow for you to re-active a character!
  • Don't create threads with open tags that have no plot visibility, character growth or character exploration. While these can sometimes string together interesting scenes it is always best practice to reach out to writers and get an understanding for what kind of plot they’re interested in or where the overlap between characters can comfortably happen. Though they can inspire interesting threads they often end up as dead threads when the fire burns out. Strolling along in a shop and bumping into someone only makes for a brief interaction. What happens afterwards? Building the plot in advance gives you direction and purpose. It’s a great cure for a writer’s block as well to know what you are after when you’re writing.
  • Don't focus on the Rule of Cool; because there’s no growth in endless victories. Even if your character is meant to finish out the plot as a Territory Leader, they can get kicked out and then come back better than ever. Cyclical plotting is not a sin.
  • Don't try to force a square peg into a round hole. Not all plots that you want to write will fit this universe. There is no room for alien invasions, space cowboys, mermaids, etc. Be realistic when you propose plot concepts and be sure that they fit the definitions of the Blood, the worlds, and the cultures.

What did I miss?

What else would you consider a Do or Don’t? Reply to the Blog post with your Do’s and Don’ts! (5 points to all who participate!)[/list]

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xx Re: The Do's and Don'ts of Plotting (Reply 1)
Jun 03, 12, 03:10:28 PM by Eleanor
DON'T be afraid to close threads. Sometimes we keep things going past the time when they can go quietly into that good night, because we want to keep the interaction going or don't want to shut down the other person's RP opportunities, and threads get stretched out.

Though I tend to disagree about the family thing -- for instance, if there are "roles" in a Territory that need filling, I see no reason not to make family members that would fit that role, that way there's an "extra" plot hook built in for someone adopting them. Just DO be aware of what roles are open concepts when creating family members. Some of my favorite characters have come from taking a family member adoption and slotting them into a role.

DON'T feel like you have to cling to what's in a profile because you said it when you made the character. At Blood Rites we value character growth and change, and sometimes Stuff Happens. A character with a weakness or fear can always try to overcome it, and can always acquire more given different circumstances! Let the plot change your character.
xx Re: The Do's and Don'ts of Plotting (Reply 2)
Jun 04, 12, 03:29:51 AM by Alysia al-Bali
Don't force Plot on characters, but instead try to find new ways to achieve a characters goal by working the Characters as they develop naturally. If the plot works for the characters, great, if not try discovery writing and see where they take you.

Don't post for the sake of posting. But don't be afraid to try exploring new things, or just practice the writing. Not every post or thread will be inspired or 'the next big plot' and often at times plot can develop from the little things written on a whim.

I also agree with Cally. Family Members, when not used to just fill up space, can be a great way to develop Plot. Espcially since family secrets can create the biggest plots of all. Filling in roles for the sake of just filling our ratio's won't work, but when building families, give them a family secret, give each sibling a motive and a vice. Even more, let other players come up with their own in return and you will be surprised what can develop form there.
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