So apparently I have a reader! (I know, nobody’s more shocked than me.) After pitching a pretty kickass idea they say:
And really, that’s about all I got. All I have so far is the setting and not really an idea for what to do with it in terms of plot/character arcs for my three main protagonists.
Whoa, asking me for help? Well if I was pretend to be a writer…
So first question you always have to ask yourself is: what medium do I want this to go on? Long or short form? Long form would be like an ongoing TV series or comic book or short story series or 12+ novels. You don’t need to have a plot or character arc ready, just start writing situations out and let the world breathe and have fun. “I want to ask Suzie to the dance but she might learn my secret!” “Hey let’s try out that new coffee shop that just opened!” Monsters of the week! Don’t be afraid to invent a situation and run with it no matter how silly or mundane it might be, the key is to try and tell the story in a way that it can ONLY happen in your world, not any other (even if they’re very similar). After a few runs you should hopefully have figured enough out about the world and your characters that a proper plot & character arc will jump out and be so obvious you’ll wonder how you didn’t see it before.
But maybe you’re aiming more for a short form like a limited run TV or comic book series, a single novel or trilogy. What then? You can’t just mess around on meaningless stuff! (Well don’t be afraid to run a short story or two – who knows if you get popular enough you might be able to release them as tie-in material in the future.) Well forget the whole “3 types of stories [man vs ___]” deal, ultimately every story (setting aside experimental bullshit) revolves around 1 factor: Change. You have a setting and all that, great! That’s how the story world is today. What could be different about it tomorrow? It doesn’t mean it will be different, just what could be. It’s the same with characters. You know who they are today, who could they be tomorrow? I think once you start asking yourself that question, the rest of it starts falling into place:
- This change, would it be for the better or worse?
- Would the antagonist(s) want to bring about or prevent this change?
- Would the protagonist(s) want to bring about or prevent this change?
- How are outside groups (if any) involved?
- Does the change happen or not?
- Any particular reason the change (or attempt) happened now and not before? Later?
- Why this protagonist or this antagonist?
The other key to remember is to always answer the questions within the logic of the story itself – don’t let your meta knowledge as author/creator infect it. “It just can/can’t” should almost never be answer given to questions. Sure, you the author may know that you can’t cross the streams, but how or why would the characters know? Can they try it out? Maybe that’s where you get your antagonist, somebody that just wants to see what happens if you do something and the protagonists have to prevent a total protonic reversal.
Hopefully these question will get you over that writer’s block and entice the muses to visit your dreams.