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Advice/Help Creating Plots?

Jannah

I suppose I'm back. Hello again.
So I have always been more of a character driven writer than a plot driven writer. Unfortunately this rarely works well in a RP setting so I come with this: how do people actually create original and engaging plots? It seems like whenever I come with something it's either cliche as hell or blatantly ripped off from somewhere else. I'm getting kind of desperate for advice here since I have lost out on some great RP opportunities due to not having anything to contribute to plot building processes.
 

Zerachiin

Become Ungovernable
I also tend to have the same problem, but here's a couple ways I try to make at least a concept for a plot that I can develop with others (I learned a lot of these from theater):
-Pick three or more of your highest interests and try to combine them in a coherent way. (Ex. Winter, Sorrow, Mecha, Green) I suggest using at least one noun, one adjective and some sort of scene or descriptor of an environment. Using random word generators also works but you get bizarre outcomes sometimes.
-Take a past story or independent work you've made and try to reformat it for a roleplay. Often when I get a need to RP in a fandom it's because I made a fanfic and really want to play it out, simple and easy.
-Steal elements from other media. Artists borrow from other art styles and writers can take inspiration from other media, Danganronpa's killing-games, the way inklings can turn into ink in Splatoon and monsters being hidden in plain sight from humans without special vision from... every... media... ever. There's tons to work with to make a completely different universe and species to explore.
-Take a break. This is the most underrated advice for artistic people, if you constantly try to make something amazing when you have no ideas or aren't motivated- nothing is going to happen. Go watch a movie, play a game, eat some food, go outside and forget about writing for a moment. You'll find something inspiring in your other hobbies that will drag you back in, and that is when the magic happens.
 

Jannah

I suppose I'm back. Hello again.
I also tend to have the same problem, but here's a couple ways I try to make at least a concept for a plot that I can develop with others (I learned a lot of these from theater):
-Pick three or more of your highest interests and try to combine them in a coherent way. (Ex. Winter, Sorrow, Mecha, Green) I suggest using at least one noun, one adjective and some sort of scene or descriptor of an environment. Using random word generators also works but you get bizarre outcomes sometimes.
-Take a past story or independent work you've made and try to reformat it for a roleplay. Often when I get a need to RP in a fandom it's because I made a fanfic and really want to play it out, simple and easy.
-Steal elements from other media. Artists borrow from other art styles and writers can take inspiration from other media, Danganronpa's killing-games, the way inklings can turn into ink in Splatoon and monsters being hidden in plain sight from humans without special vision from... every... media... ever. There's tons to work with to make a completely different universe and species to explore.
-Take a break. This is the most underrated advice for artistic people, if you constantly try to make something amazing when you have no ideas or aren't motivated- nothing is going to happen. Go watch a movie, play a game, eat some food, go outside and forget about writing for a moment. You'll find something inspiring in your other hobbies that will drag you back in, and that is when the magic happens.

I really like the first bit of advice, but unfortunately most of the stuff I'm into is not the type of stuff most people would want to RP :(
 

nerdy tangents

art by tausune
So I think you don’t have to make something “unique” or “original” to get interest. A lot of times the more familiar a premise is the more likely people are to want to do it.

I do fandom roleplay and I get a lot more interest when I use “cliche” elements then when I try to go super unique.

What makes any idea work is going to be the characters and player dynamic.

So go ahead and make a cliche list of ideas and see if your partner can’t come up with some twists (or use your characters to make a well worn premise more interesting)

Ex. I do arranged marriage plots a lot lately, but I add in the twist that the people are from different countries. That’s mostly because I like to write character journeys that involve fish out of water narratives.

So I took a cliche idea and added a character driven interest to it that makes it a little unique.
 

Jannah

I suppose I'm back. Hello again.
So I think you don’t have to make something “unique” or “original” to get interest. A lot of times the more familiar a premise is the more likely people are to want to do it.

I do fandom roleplay and I get a lot more interest when I use “cliche” elements then when I try to go super unique.

What makes any idea work is going to be the characters and player dynamic.

So go ahead and make a cliche list of ideas and see if your partner can’t come up with some twists (or use your characters to make a well worn premise more interesting)

Ex. I do arranged marriage plots a lot lately, but I add in the twist that the people are from different countries. That’s mostly because I like to write character journeys that involve fish out of water narratives.

So I took a cliche idea and added a character driven interest to it that makes it a little unique.

I honestly greatly enjoy the whole "fish out of water" scenario, but with a lot of the stuff I tend to RP it's often tricky to implement.
 

nerdy tangents

art by tausune
I can try to help with some more specific ideas if you want. Also sometimes your partners themselves can help you flesh out your ideas if you that’s something you struggle with.

I love to take someone’s broad premise and work it into a functional plot/setting.

As long as you are engaged in the process you don’t necessarily have to be the one making the plots on your own. Plenty of people are happy to do that work for you.
 

GojiBean

That One Fear In My Enemy's Eyes
Greetings!

I have a surprise for you...

SURPRISE!!
You're actually far more of a plot-writer than you might realize.

"Plot," put in its most simple terms, is the causality (or the "why") behind everything that happens within each event in a story.

For example (Story in bold and Plot in italics):

A boy meets a girl at school. She is very kind, mature, responsible, and intelligent. And so the boy falls in love.

The story is that a boy meets a girl, and the plot is that he falls in love because of what he sees in her.

It's a bit oversimplified here, but going the simple route is often the best way to understand something at its core.

Story is the event, plot is the why behind the event. Simple.

So, everything your characters are doing in a story has both a plot and story element inherently contained within it. Your character goes to Point A to get supplies from the enemy to cripple a supply line because you know that if you don't they'll stomp your allied forces. The story is the event of getting supplies, the plot is that failure means the allies will get slaughtered. Another example is that your character falls in love but doesn't believe in themselves as a good candidate for the love interest, and so they miss out on their chance and it's a tragic affair where your character never gets to experience the love they wanted. The story is falling in love, the plot is never realizing that love due to personal insecurities.

So, I wouldn't worry about "not contributing to plot building." Everything you do with your character is adding to the plot. Every decision they make. Every word they say. Every fight. Every friendship. It all contributes to the plot and helps to build the world around your character and all of the experiences they enjoy throughout the story.

If you're worried about the things your character doing becoming contrived or in any way cliché, then my advice is to double-check that the character is being true to themselves in the way you originally designed them. Because if you look very closely and consider them from a deeper external perspective instead of an internal one, chances are you might accidentally be having them do things they normally wouldn't given the information you've provided in their backstory.

Take for instance one of the biggest and most overused tropes in all of fictional RPing right now, the brooding loner character.

The brooding loner is very, very easy to misrepresent because a lot of people think only in terms of defiance, disagreement, one-word answers, or otherwise avoiding every conversation because "I'm a loner." And yet when we check their character bio, we see that they come from a relatively normal background and only became a loner because they lost a friend or two along the way and now they "avoid all connections" because "isn't that what these character types do?" Well, yes and no.

Let me ask, why did they suddenly decide to sever or resist all connections? Was the pain of those losses really that deep? Or does the role-player simply not know that this isn't how human psychology works and that this individual, while quiet and probably a bit distant, would still be perfectly sociable even if they're hesitant to reveal details about themselves?

All of a sudden when we ask that last question we start seeing ways they could interact with others that go against a lot of the established tropes around the character archetype. They're more social than initially thought. They're more amiable as well and agree to things even if they're still carrying a bit of a cold attitude on the outside. They can still get excited by things. They can still be attracted to those they are attracted to. They can still be humble. They can still be knowledgeable. They can still be proactive about getting what they want or what they think their friends and allies need. The list goes on and on.

Most of the time when we start seeing our characters stagnate and go places that are cliché or otherwise boring and contrived, it's because we failed to consider every detail in their backstory. More specifically, we failed to consider the "why" behind every detail. In short, our character lacks their own personal plot.

GASP! There's that word again! Lol.

But never fear! The issue is easily rectified by one simple course of action:

Ask "Why?"

For every detail you come up with, ask "why?"

"The character is 20 years old and comes from a poor family."

- Why?

"Because dad lost his job and mother never worked a day in her life."

- Why?

"Because dad got hurt on the job and couldn't perform and mother's family was already dirt poor and couldn't work cause nobody wanted them for work."

- Why?

"Because dad wasn't actually fit for the job and wasn't strong enough to handle the physical labor and strain and mother's family going back to her grandparents were refugees who never quite got back on their feet."

And all of a sudden, just with these three "why" questions, we have a host of new information about the character's backstory which help inform us of who they are today and give us insight into how they would think that might go outside the "standard" boxes.

Their father worked a job he wasn't ready for and got hurt because of it, so the character will probably advise others against ever doing something they're not ready for out of fear of them getting hurt. They're overprotective and fearful of taking risks which might make them come across as bossy or stringent when it comes to advising others to avoid such things. And because they know what happens when someone hurts themselves doing something they're not ready for they're easily angered about the subject and could go off like a bomb on someone who decided to do so anyway. While they don't intend to be so, they might seem in the heat of the moment to be self-important and flaunting their opinion when the reality is that they're just worried and bad at containing their own emotions because they've seen these consequences play out again and again in the past.

As well, the character knows that financial straits can make people desperate and that not all refugees from horrible tragedies like towns razed to the ground by bandits end up getting back on their feet. As a result of this information in their background the character has gained discipline about keeping one's expectations in check and never reaching farther than one's arm can actually stretch, so to speak. They're also very compassionate towards vagrants and those who haven't gotten a leg up in the world yet due to knowing all too well what that's like. They're able to help others not give in to panic when financial situations seem dire. And when other sharks come around looking to "give you a chance to make money fast," the character likely knows better than to accept the "easy" offer and can protect others from falling into traps like that. So discipline and restraint are two of the character's strong points and clash beautifully with their negative points outlined in the previous paragraph.

And everything I just outlined above came about simply because we answered a few questions about what daddy did when the character was growing up. So imagine how much information you could unearth about your character if you asked "why" to 10, 15, or 20 different pieces of information about the character's backstory? Suddenly they take on a whole new life and a whole new meaning. And a lot of the classic and cliché reactions and/or situations they'd find themselves in previously no longer apply because they've become deeper and more nuanced characters who don't just act on the first instinct of their archetype. They're more than the sum of their parts. And they can break the norms while retaining their identity.

A brooding longer, for example, doesn't often opt to travel in a group willingly unless forced to for "plot" reasons in most cases with inexperienced writers. But for you, and when you uncover information like we did above, your brooding loner could actually seek a group environment due to a repressed desire to be surrounded by friends because that's a life they knew when they were little and they desperately want it back but don't know how to accept it because of how long it's been and how many horrible things they've seen along the way. While still acting like the loner and hanging around just close enough to be "in the group" but far enough away so as not to talk to anyone, they retain their identity as the brooding loner while having infinitely more depth and nuance to their personality and demeanor.

Say for instance they find that group they wanted. They act the longer, but they hear all 3 conversations happening at once and are taking interest in each one. So when someone says later "Aw man, where'd I leave my tool?" Suddenly your character is there to hand it to them because they were watching and they saw where the tool ended up. And now your character has an interaction that's dynamic, natural, and outside the "norm" of a brooding loner who'd normally just leave it alone because "not my problem." But now they're starting to make a friend. They're starting to take that first step towards getting what they want. And yet they're still a brooding loner because they keep the conversation brief and immediately go back to their "spot" just outside the group limit acting as if they never just did that good deed. But word gets around. And slowly but surely the character gets more and more chances to do things like that and eventually, over the course of the RP, they break their shell and start living the life they always dreamed of surrounded by good friends and potentially a love interest along the way.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Lol.

Even if you're usually thinking character first, plot is always there. And the "why" behind everything they do is the key to unlocking the greater mysteries about who the character is which will help them break free of a lot of the clichés and contrived plot points that so many others find themselves in time and again.

So hopefully this helped!

Cheers!

~ GojiBean
 

Clicknorris2

New Member
I just kind of go in and the rp starts with just like a black void (which is how i imagine every rp at the start) and then i just start typing without thinking and usually my imagination just fills out a world that i just chuck my oc's into and call it good... the world is constantly changing in my world because when i let people into it to rp i allow them to interact with it in every way that they want... i call it the edge of reality
 

DanganMillie Madness

DanganMillie
The way that I usually make roleplay plots for roleplays go as followed:
  • I decide the universe that it's set in. If it's a canon universe that exists within a fandom, then this step is solved. If I'm making my own universe, then I have to consider a few things. What are the rules of this universe? How big is this universe? What are the people like? What is society like.
  • Then, I start to think about characters that will be in this universe in the roleplay. What will they be doing? Is there a certain conflict in this universe that will mess directly with the plot?
  • After I've figured these two things out, the plot(s) just flow to my mind!
But everyone has a different way of making roleplay plots, so make sure to just make one that you're interested in and then you're bound to find someone else who's interested in it as well soon enough!
 

Xillia

❣ ❤ The Guardian of Your Heart ❤❣
1. Establishment (What sort of world/vision are you attempting to encapsulate, there's more to a response than simply a character moving from point A to B, or saying such and such. Everything is a product of its environment. What IS that environment.)

2. Conflict (All good stories have a conflict, something to overcome, whether it's something tangible like a big-bad skeleton set to overthrowing the world, or whether it's something deeper like inter-personal struggle)

3. Characters (This is the portion you may be most interested in; the defining characteristics of your individuals/individual that adhere to the world, and how their personal goals/aims contribute towards forwarding against/for the conflict. Use inspiration from earlier Establishment to further this to your heart's content.)

Insert extra steps if you wish, IE; bonds, pre-existing relationships, backstories, etc.

I'm not the best at this since a majority of my plotting is getting a general idea of where I want to go, then letting everything fly off the finger as it happens so reactions and assessments are more on-the-fly and realistic of whatever character(s) I'm trying to embody through my reply. And I'd hardly consider an original thought of yours being a blatant rip off of another created world or plot, the fact of the matter is that we take inspiration from everything around us at every possible moment, even contemplate things like Game of Thrones. While it is an original concept, take notice of everything it borrows from to make it unique. History and political drama--Quite literally everyone has access to this source material if you research older kingdoms and their behaviors towards neighbors, and zombies (has been done a thousand times) a product of their environment. The only kick is that they're sentient, even some movies like I Am Legend has borrowed this idea. What makes these things UNIQUE, is that they're driven by characters, which you seem to be well familiarized with.

It is the characters, the people, those that have the will to change things in the direction best suited towards their own needs and desires that bring this entire cycle into its own shape. The rest of it is just your mold, it scarcely matters what the material is, what does matter--is how you formulate it.

GojiBean GojiBean worded this magnificently, this is merely just a summarized reflection of that.
 

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