Originally Posted by CarenSwan
Help! I'm writing... But I have NO idea what I'm doing! I have characters and a setting, but no plot! For now I'm doing character development stuff, but have no idea where to take them. I scanned the "adopt-a-plot" thread on the NaNo site, but none of the ideas seemed to suit my characters. I'm looking for something much closer to real life, just a story about a family and a woman finding a place in her extended family, and finding a partner. This is what I like to read and like to write--just normal life stuff--but I need a PROBLEM, a CHALLENGE, something to turn this into a STORY rather than a long diary entry... Does anyone else know what I'm talking about or can anyone point me to any good plot-development resources? TIA, and I'm already encouraged by all of you, just knowing that you're all in this with me!
It sounds like your subject matter is character development and/or personal growth. So, your challenge/problem is going to be more internal than an external situation. Even if it was external, your focus would be on the internal side of it. Right? Okay, if I got that right, then here are some ideas:
Who is your Main Character's primary challenger? I call this the Impact Character. In a story, if you imagine the MC has been happily journeying through life up till this point using one way of living that has pretty much always worked for her, well, the Impact Character is the one who suddenly challenges that. S/He provides an alternate "way of doing things" or alternate belief system, either by teaching/trying to change the MC actively, or perhaps just by existing (they don't even necessarily have to know the MC very well). An impact character could be a "good guy" or a "bad guy" but there will always be friction and conflict between them and the MC, because that's kind of what the story's about, at least the main character's personal story-- about how their previous way of life is challenged by the Impact Character, and about the impact
that the impact character ultimately has on them.
EX: In "Gone With The Wind", Scarlett's Impact Character, is of course, Rhett. In "Toy Story", Woody's Impact Character is Buzz. In the first Harry Potter book, his Impact Character is Professor Snape. In "The Matrix", Neo's Impact Character is Morpheus. In "Casablanca", Rick's Impact Character is Ilsa. In the first Star Wars movie, Luke's Impact Character is Obi Wan Kenobi, in the second movie, it's Yoda, and in the third movie, it's Darth Vader. The Impact Character is not necessarily a teacher, but they are someone who challenges the Main Character's present way of life, and thereby the MC experiences growth. they may be presenting a better way of living, or they be presenting a worse way of living. In the end of the story, either the Main Character can change, or the Impact Character can change, or niether can change, or both can change, effectively "switching" mindsets I guess.
So, think about who is your Main Character's Impact Character (IC). How do they see things differently? what does the Main Character want? What does the Impact Character want? What's the friction between them? Does the MC change in the end? Does the IC change? Do they puttheir differences behind them and discover "we're not so different, you and I" or not?
Hope that gives you some food for thought, I desperately need to get back to writing! Darnitt, baby just woke up.