The most plot formula to avoid in writing a good story

D4isuke

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I was thinking like how to avoid writing a story with a biased preference. Moral side (good vs. bad), Faction vs. Faction, Order vs. Chaos, or anything else you might wanna think of. Personally, I used to watch many shonen anime shows like Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, Kuroko no Basket and many others when I was a small dope ass kid although even the majority of my friends intrigued them for their cool ass technique that is somehow illogical to real life, I even dropped in the mid point of the plot, and that is something which I don't appreciate and the reason of dropping the story:

THE ESCALATION PROBLEM

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The plot formula which has the common, yet special technique on having a bland "plot armor" style. One prior example is "if you lose your shit, you take your shit back and win over with your ultimate shit" KAMEKAMEKAMEKAMEHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! . In other words, it's literally everywhere in every shonen shows even most Western young adult teen show that has that too (Superwoman series, Flash Series, and etc.). This Escalation Problem has yet considered to be acceptable to most series' fans because it's hype as shit (a mere "hype value" as it is).

If we're reading/watching a story, we mostly immerse like an animal, but if we're reading/watching a "good" story, we mostly immerse like a human. Good example is, "It's okay to fail something, it's okay to move on, it's okay to run away like a coward, it's okay to everything that might torment you, it's okay that you can just suffer everytime you want, it's okay to lose/break-up with your girlfriend. it's okay to feel empty. it's okay to kill someone, it's okay to die for your better choice. it's okay to have an anticlimactic ending. "

... because that is what a human truly needs. We need that "relatable" self-fulfillment which we truly need of especially it's unexpected to grow within yourself. If your character has bland-looking features like being a typical man/woman who has modest-looking style, then you can add that taste with "good quality personality" which enable the readers/watchers to immerse themselves within the fantasy you truly want to escape to. Adding some realism into the unique fantasy world will tell how much it is worth to explore what and how you wonder around. With deep meaning/messages through "show, don't tell" principle, you really can tell yourself differently that it was more worthy to immerse yourself through story. With a human mind so complex, it will definitely worth a taste to see.

So...

The proper way to execute the plot is not to let readers predicted what's going to happen.

That's all..

To you, what's your opinion about having a "good" plot formula?
 

GDLiZy

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The proper way to execute the plot is not to let readers predicted what's going to happen.
Not true. At all.

A good plot isn't about unpredictability. It's all in the execution.

If the readers correctly guess your plot, DO NOT forcefully change it. I can guarantee you that it will become trash. Case in point, Game of Throne.
 

D4isuke

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Not true. At all.

A good plot isn't about unpredictability. It's all in the execution.

If the readers correctly guess your plot, DO NOT forcefully change it. I can guarantee you that it will become trash. Case in point, Game of Throne.

Kinda agree for a bit especially the "DO NOT forcefully change it", but I'm talking about like "it's predictable how will it concluded." .

Like leaving the readers hang for a bit till the right time.
 

TheHelpfulFawn

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Do what I do. Make an asshole character and make him one of the main protagonist and make sure he continues acting like an ass throughout the series.
 

GDLiZy

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Kinda agree for a bit especially the "DO NOT forcefully change it", but I'm talking about like "it's predictable how will it concluded." .

Like leaving the readers hang for a bit till the right time.
Still nope. You can structure the plot around a predetermined outcome, and the story is still good.
 
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jinxs2011

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The proper way to execute the plot is not to let readers predicted what's going to happen.
Well, it turns out every good mystery story have terrible plot then, because the best of them you can figure out what's going to happen if you're smart enough and pay enough attention.

There's a balance to be had. If the reader can guess what's going to happen all the time, then it's probably going to be a crappy story, with a few exceptions, because they may as well not read it if they already know what's going to happen. On the other hand, if they never know what the heck is about to happen at any given point, then they're just going to get annoyed because if they can't guess even some small things, then chances are it just doesn't make sense.

There's meaning in dropping hints sometimes, so the attentive readers can get that, 'hey, i remember that thing!' sudden flash of understanding that feels good when it finally comes to fruition. There's also meaning in keeping some things ambiguous. IDK, everyone's writing style is different, there's no absolute rule to this kinda thing.
 

Jemini

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Still nope. You can structure the plot around a determined outcome, and the story is still good.

I back this up completely. A LOT of the draw my writing had initially for readers was my heavy use of foreshadowing. That is basically you subtly telling or hinting to the reader what's going to come next. Readers REALLY really enjoy scraping together these little pieces of the puzzle and figuring out how they fit together. And, for proper foreshadowing to work, it needs the pay-off that actually fits all that foreshadowing.

This is also a huge part of what made the mystery genre so popular. Half the fun really is in making the predictions.

That said, the mystery genre also likes the idea of throwing in red herrings. That is, stuff to deliberately throw the readers of the scent of what's going on. The trick is, red herrings should not look the same as the real foreshadowing. There has to be some kind of tell that allows the reader to identify and throw out the red herrings. The most frequent red herring people like to use is making it look like a certain person is the bad guy while they were actually supporting the main cast, or were at the least working toward their same objective, from the shadows all along. Of course, that in and of itself is a twist you can throw subtle clues and foreshadowing into.
 

AliceShiki

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You seem to think making use of tropes is a bad thing.

That's wrong. Tropes are there to be used. You just need to be careful in what tropes you use and to not define your characters and/or plot only by tropes.
 

Jemini

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Ultimately, I find the best way to run a plot so it's interesting is to find a way to make your plot as messy as real life is messy. And I mean EXACTLY as messy. This means follow the following rules of thumb.

  • Your main characters are part of a larger story, not the focus around which it spins. The reader just happens to use the main character's eyes as a window through which to perceive this larger story.
  • Things should never be too convenient for your main cast. Make them have to work to solve their problems, and make them have to prove themselves to earn the trust of others.
  • Things should not be too unreasonably difficult for your characters either. If things just keep constantly going wrong for your characters no matter what, that just gets exhausting for the reader.
  • Villains are not there just as something for your character to defeat. They have their own motivations, and it is not normal to obsess over a single person (like your main character) enough to be constantly throwing challenges at them as though that's the only thing in the world that matters to them. The MC and the villain are just two people who happen to encounter each other at a time where their interests happen to conflict with one another.
 
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well i think predictable story can be pretty nice.

like, when there's a love triangle story between a male and two females, you can make an actual relationship triangle.

as such, there's always a chance that the girls will love each other. while the male became a cute futanari and went for a threesome ending.
 

Discount_Blade

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Do what I do. Make an asshole character and make him one of the main protagonist and make sure he continues acting like an ass throughout the series.


There is an ancient grandmaster of the Leaping Plot Hurricance Style martial arts. I bow before your majesty.
 

lnv

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It doesn't matter if readers can or can't predict the plot, a journey is all about experiences, not just the destination. If you want your story to be fun for the readers and good enough to reread if they wish to, as mentioned execution is what counts. While throwing some curve balls may be nice, I've seen plenty of stories ruined by authors trying to shake things up with something people can't predict. And at that point people simply can't follow the story or feel like it doesn't deliver the build up.

Personally, I think the plot formula to be the most careful of is throwing things into the story that we authors like from other stories or in general. Kind of like, hey I like those tombs that open once every 10,000 years, lets add them to the plot. This is a common plot trap because unlike natural plot progression one might think of, this plot point is borrowed. So it isn't uncommon to "skip a few steps". This is why we get ancient once in 10,000 year tombs opening up every Tuesday.

That is why it is important when borrowing elements, tropes and etc from other stories or adding things simply because one thinks its "cool". It is important to take a step backwards and ask yourself, does this work with my plot? Do I need to make some change to them? Tropes aren't a bad thing in themselves, what is bad is blindly adding them into the story without adapting them. Because others have done the thinking for the tropes, we subconsciously skip a few steps in processing them.

And that in my opinion is the biggest plot formula to avoid.
 

Discount_Blade

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It doesn't matter if readers can or can't predict the plot, a journey is all about experiences, not just the destination. If you want your story to be fun for the readers and good enough to reread if they wish to, as mentioned execution is what counts. While throwing some curve balls may be nice, I've seen plenty of stories ruined by authors trying to shake things up with something people can't predict. And at that point people simply can't follow the story or feel like it doesn't deliver the build up.

Personally, I think the plot formula to be the most careful of is throwing things into the story that we authors like from other stories or in general. Kind of like, hey I like those tombs that open once every 10,000 years, lets add them to the plot. This is a common plot trap because unlike natural plot progression one might think of, this plot point is borrowed. So it isn't uncommon to "skip a few steps". This is why we get ancient once in 10,000 year tombs opening up every Tuesday.

That is why it is important when borrowing elements, tropes and etc from other stories or adding things simply because one thinks its "cool". It is important to take a step backwards and ask yourself, does this work with my plot? Do I need to make some change to them? Tropes aren't a bad thing in themselves, what is bad is blindly adding them into the story without adapting them. Because others have done the thinking for the tropes, we subconsciously skip a few steps in processing them.

And that in my opinion is the biggest plot formula to avoid.

Kinda making me want to go and search for that tomb that opens up every 10,000 years. Do you think they'll have 10,000 year old Jamocha milkshakes from Arby's? The machines were broke at my local ones.
 

Mejiro

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Well, it turns out every good mystery story have terrible plot then, because the best of them you can figure out what's going to happen if you're smart enough and pay enough attention.
That is, in fact, an explicit point of the 'proper' mystery genre - that it should be solvable, and the writer shouldn't 'cheat' (go look up Knox's and Dyne's rules, if you're interested). Suspense is a hook, but not an essential one. For some genres, their predictability is an enticement - look at romance, most typically, where it's often easy to pick out the male and female lead, and they're going to get together.
 

K5Rakitan

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The proper way to execute the plot is not to let readers predicted what's going to happen.
But . . . but I've been having so much fun with my foreshadowing! Husband pretty much ignores my foreshadowing when he's beta reading, so I guess it's subtle enough for the readers who don't want to know what is going to happen.
 

Ral

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The proper way to execute the plot is not to let readers predicted what's going to happen.

This is so wrong. I mean, you could write an unpredictable nonsense where things come at you at random and that wouldn't in any shape or form be a good plot. It is a terrible plot. A well executed isn't about unpredictability.

Kinda agree for a bit especially the "DO NOT forcefully change it", but I'm talking about like "it's predictable how will it concluded."

This ignores the fact that a lot of the draw of the story is in the journey and not the destination.

In my opinion, what makes these predictable stories fail where other do not is lack of integration of the tropes. A lot of this is become obvious when you ask Why? Why are they doing this? Why is this happening? Most likely, there is no reason or have weak reasons or just forced by the author. They just take those stuff from other stories and just plop them in without any thought. Heck, you given an example with the Kameha. It is awesome in Dragon Balls, but many hack authors just take it out and plop them in their own stories thinking that it was the Kameha that makes Dragon Balls awesome. No it wasn't and no, taking and plopping it into your story isn't going to make your story awesome.

Also, I think you might mistaken being fooled or being mislead as being unpredictable. Good authors are really good at manipulating your expectations, especially when it comes to details.

Also, if the author do it right, there are things that the readers just wants to happen, or don't want to happen. The Cinderella story, the readers would want Cinderella to have her happy ending, and that is what they get. See that douche bag character there? The readers so want that character be curb-stomped, and that is what they will get. There are just some things that are truly satisfying going in the exact the way we think and want it to go.

In short, plot is complex man. There is just no single answer.
 

D4isuke

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In short, plot is complex man. There is just no single answer. This ignores the fact that a lot of the draw of the story is in the journey and not the destination.
Guess I was wrong for that bold text quote...

I've been having so much fun with my foreshadowing

It's like having so much fun to gather evidences and clues on a certain detective game.

I find the best way to run a plot so it's interesting is to find a way to make your plot as messy as real life is messy. And I mean EXACTLY as messy.
I forgot to outline my plot which is kinda worse than messy, but I only progress it like it follows from point a to point b, but in a messy style
There's a balance to be had. If the reader can guess what's going to happen all the time, then it's probably going to be a crappy story, with a few exceptions, because they may as well not read it if they already know what's going to happen. On the other hand, if they never know what the heck is about to happen at any given point, then they're just going to get annoyed because if they can't guess even some small things, then chances are it just doesn't make sense.
This is why I hate "win all things straight" plot.
Do what I do. Make an asshole character and make him one of the main protagonist and make sure he continues acting like an ass throughout the series.
My MC is a "she", and yes, she is kinda "dense asshole character" who knows nothing but.....
 

ddevans

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There is a kind of divine tyranny to standard narrative expectations. You might think of such a thing as fate. Being a very clever writer, it's possible to elegantly accept the judgment of the gods, or to pointedly defy it. In the immortal words of Edel from Princess Tutu: "May those who accept their fate find happiness; may those who defy it find glory."

The fulfillment of these narrative expectations is a modern ritual. It is ritualistic because it reinforces our sense of community and belonging, and affirms for the reader that he and the author are speaking the same symbolic language and value at least some of the same things. Having this blanket of safety suddenly removed is an unpleasant experience. The ritual dance isn't being conducted properly, you ordered steak and received lasagna, etc. At this point you've split the audience. Some people are going to like the new dance. Others will not have it.

That's a completely separate issue from writing a tragedy, or a story with tragic elements. Tragedies come with their own suite of expectations. Every genre has its strengths. Shounen certainly benefits from touching on human themes, but it's not going to go full barrel Tolstoy on you. How would you feel if you had to live in a world where you never knew what was going on and couldn't trust anyone? That's basically hell. I think you can guess which of Edel's cliques I fall into.
 
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