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Established February 2010
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How to Plot

xx How to Plot
May 17, 12, 03:03:10 PM by Jamie


The Overview of How to Plot
Blood Rites is a community that thrives on our plots, sub plots, arcs and character relations. These all represent different elements of the RP life cycle. We have marketed ourselves as an “intermediate to advanced board” and I think that our biggest element that classifies us as an advanced board is how we go about plotting and weaving highly dynamic plots and concepts together.

That is our most powerful strength.

Plotting does not always come easily; it often takes quite a bit of work and planning to make everything fit into its designated place.

What makes a good plot?
This question will be revisited several times over throughout the length of this blog post; but let’s review it from a high level point of view.

A character is only as good as the plots they get involved with.
In fact this is such a key element to good plot that we created a whole Blog Article on the topic: Character Creation. These two topics go hand in hand significantly. An interesting conceptual character will create no traction without an accompanying plot.

Dynamic plots are compelling and save characters.
One dimensional plots have a defined level of interaction and a defined period of existence. These plots often fizzle out of existence or become invalidated when one element of the plot drops out (usually an inactive character or a writer's muse). By building multiple dimensional plots and allowing for continued growth on a plot scale (in addition to character scale) is the key element to writing a dynamic plot.

Compelling plots draw writers like moths to the flame.
Create elements that will attract writers to read and want to interact with the plot. The more a writer wants to be a part of the plot the more activity it will produce and the more interesting sub-arcs and spin-offs it will create. Plot should be treated like a living organism that needs life to be breathed into it in order to produce more.

An Example of all 3 Elements spun together.
The Myos Guild is a great example of how to create a plot element that is dynamic and compelling.

  • Plot: The Guilds have a strength of presence in the overall plot of Dena Nehele and due to their setup they also can interact with nearly any character that can create a plot to hire them.
  • Dynamic: Due to the circumstances of their inception and construction the Myos have a built in Dynamic element that involves interaction within the Guild, with Aristo clients, with other Guilds, and a level of personal growth.
  • Compelling: Between the Guilds, Politics, and the culture of undercutting and brutality to get ahead, the Myos Guild (and Guilds in general) have created a compelling plot that captures the interest of the writer and develops a strong plot while remaining true to the genre and AU.



Weaving Plot
Plot should be the amalgamation of several major elements, characters, and arcs. In the environment of an RP it should also be collaborative, flexible and provide conflict.

Make it Dynamic
The benefit to a dynamic plot is that it can continue to breathe and grow beyond any constraints of the original concept. This is particularly beneficial in the world of RPs. Two great examples of strong Dynamic Plots at Blood Rites are found in Dena Nehele and Dharo.

Dena Nehele
The levels of Dena Nehele’s plot allow for the entire Territory to thrive. It is a compelling plot that encompasses more than just the Court members and spiderwebs out to cover the Territory. The plot breaks down to 3 major areas: Court (full of intrigue and schemes), Guilds (full of danger and intrigue), and Aristos (full of petty intrigue and chess games). There is overlap between all 3 elements that allows them to exist alone and allows them to interact with one another.

Dharo
The success of Dharo’s plot is also owed to the built in levels; but keep in mind that these elements were later added to the Territory to create more dynamic elements. When a weakness is seen in a plot it is beneficial to find a way to fill the gap rather than to burn out the plot. The major plot hooks are the Court (with sub elements of the Recruiters, the Intrigue, the inter-Territory element with Little Terreille, and the 2 Queens) and the Spies (including the Spies, Eyes & Ears, and the Rampart Club).


Multiple Dimensions
Success for a plot (or character) can often be achieved by presenting the story with multiple angles. It is up to the writer and crafter of the plot to be able to weave multiple angles in together and find ways to bring plots together. A stand alone plot in a Territory often will fizzle out but if one manages to find a way to integrate the plot with others in the Territory to create a pattern of plot there will be success.

Example 1: Sister of a Main character? Sure! But what else?
Adoptions are very popular at Blood Rites and we always encourage them because it offers at least one angle of plot to the writer. However we have noticed that many people box themselves into that one role without creating the character to have multiple avenues of plot.

Consider the following concepts to create multiple dimensions:

  • Star crossed lover with the main character’s villain? Now we’re talking.
  • Sleeper agent spy for Territory? That’s interesting.


Example 2: Master of the Guard? Sure! But what else? What intrigue?
The roles we fill often have important value to the Territory or to a plot but sometimes we box our characters into a one dimensional space without consideration as to what else they can do within that role.

Consider the following concepts to create multiple dimensions:

  • Demons in the closet? Follow that path.
  • Love interest with the Spy Master? … Oh, hi Vance! <.< (MotG in Dharo)



Room for Growth
It is critical for all plots to have built in room for growth, expansion and development. The same can be said for the characters that are involved. Growth is not always a positive factor but there is need for the evolution of storyline and characters within any good plot.


Collaboration
RPs are meant to represent a collaborative and interactive environment. Though we have Plot Leaders at Blood Rites their role is meant to be advisory and provide directional plots for the Territory. Our own plots should always be a collaborative effort to encompass the overall Territory plot and to create a bridge between our own plots and those over others around us.

Two Heads are Better than One
This applies to plotting in a huge way. It refers to two equal heads who are collaboratively plotting and sharing ideas between them. Each idea is meant to build off the one before it and blossom into a greater plot. Working together often produces some truly great plot and some of the most interesting ones at Blood Rites have been conceptualized in this manner. It is important to note that collaboration means a shared and vested interest in the plot; and it does not refer to one head who relies on the other to produce and conceptualize the plot on their own and then hand out roles afterwards. The back and forth discussion and idea sharing of plotting is what makes RP writing unique and interesting. Plotting is about give and take.

Flexibility
Flexibility is the element of plotting that focuses on the ability of a writer to alter their plot or change it to facilitate incorporation or a change of path or pace. Flexibility is needed when aiming to create plots, managing plots or integrating plots. When plotting with another individual you should always understand that compromise is implicit with collaboration.

Integrating Plots
It is key to be willing to compromise on your concept to fit into existing plots. Flexibility is one of the key elements to good plot and plotting in RPGs. Without flexibility there often can be no collaboration. No one is obligated to play or plot with you; if you’re inflexible and stubborn you will kill plot.

Creating Plots
It is paramount to understand that not all plots are meant to exist in this world or in this alternate universe. The world we write in is complex and does not account for all the inspirations we might see within our everyday life. Learning how to compromise and remain flexible when considering these plots is the key to helping create a lasting plot.

Managing Plots
RPGs are living and breathing entities; characters come and go over the course of a single plot. The plot should always be able to accommodate the shift in these characters and should never be reliant on any one character to keep the wheels spinning. Since characters and plots shift over time there should be an allowance for flexibility concerning the addition of characters. A concept may come along later down the line that would fit in with a backstory (a nephew, for instance) who did not previously exist. Finding ways to incorporate that character into an existing backstory is a challenge but it will help provide more dimensions and integration points within the plot.


Conflict
Good plot always features conflict. The conflict can be externalized through a villain or force, or it can be internalized by one’s own demons or emotions. However it exists in a plot it always pushes for both plot and character development. All plots should face some kind of conflict.

It’s OK to Lose
A protagonist who gets everything they want is boring indeed. Put some struggle into your plots. It gets boring if your character wins every time. Challenge them. Challenge the plots and engage in conflict.

Villains Without Mustaches
Avoid using mustache twirling villains to inspire your conflicts. These only make the enemy very black; but when the enemy is gray you’ll discover an entire new plane of plot. (Avengers reference!) It’s easy to hate Loki when he’s rampaging through New York City; but it’s harder to hate him when you understand that his own struggles and hatred are derived from his childhood and circumstances of birth.

Inner or Outer, both hurt
Conflict can be derived from inner turmoil or outer turmoil. It can be a character flaw or an external influence. In fact it can come from both inner and outer directions at once!

Be Realistic
Give your character a realistic and fair adversary or struggle to overcome. If your villain is a Black Jeweled Black Widow and your hero is a White Jeweled Warlord Prince what will the realistic outcomes of that fight be? Don’t set yourself up to fail. On the flip side if the hero is the Black Jeweled Black Widow and the villain a White Jeweled Warlord Prince where is the true conflict taking place? You need to explore why the Black Widow simply wouldn’t wipe the pipsqueak Warlord Prince out of existence.


Success at Blood Rites

Reply to this Blog Post to nominate your favorite plot arc and the reasons you think it represents good plot. All nominations will gain you 10 points and there are no limitations to the number of nominations you make. Please try to use a minimum of 1-2 sentences to nominate.


Finally...

One final note: Plotting is always a 2 way street. You cannot rely on someone to give you plot. It should always be collaboratively created and brainstormed. Plot does not exist in a vacuum.

Many thanks to: Roma, Tal, Dani, Phedre, Dany and Kri for their selected input into this blog entry.

Keep your eyes peeled for the sequel post: The Dos and Dont’s of RP Plotting



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xx Re: How to Plot (Reply 1)
Jun 04, 12, 01:30:03 PM by Tal
The Landens Rise Again - This is what I'm calling the plot in Raej.  This plot is amazing for a few different reasons. First of all, it allows just about anyone to be involved. It is specifically geared for everyone because it is an all inclusive plot ranging from Landens to Blood. It allows for character development which we see in Syeira, Odji and Kafir and it is not being led by one person.  Everyone involved in this plot is pushing it together and taking it in different places.  The enemy is prejudice and no one can really fight that while fear lives so deeply in their hearts.  I am a HUGE fan of this plot.

The Underbelly of the Coliseum - This is a plot made not by one person, but by a bunch who all twist and turn their characters and their characters' involvements. If you're not bought in the Coliseum, you're probably in trouble. Everyone here has something to lose and everyone holds something above someone else's head.  This is like an awesome soap opera for Blood Rites. Letizia, Durante, Judas, Arsenia, Gloriana and Cesare.  The webs of this plot are so intricate they're impossible to pull apart.

Rebuilding the Eyrie - Although it's in its beginning stages, the rebuilding of Askavi, T has a lot of players in it and a lot of things that will be necessary to do to even get a territory up and running. There's no enemy here, what the characters are struggling against is the hole they're already in.  The plot, once it's fully underway will open up to allow members of both old and new regimes to be involved which is something both people who already have characters and those looking for new ones can appreciate.  It's also a plot that doesn't involve a "bad guy".  Sometimes the best plots are those that force characters to grow and change and adjust, knowing the victory at the end may be a Pyrrhic one.
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