Favourite plots

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Favourite plots
« on: October 10, 2017, 04:24:09 PM »
I'd like to know about your favourite plots, from sub-plots to random plot ideas in the shower. Even ones in books you've read. Tell me all about your favourite plots. Why do you like it? Did it catch you by surprise? If it's one you have thought of, did you go ahead with it? Did it turn your story into something else or send it on a tangent?



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Re: Favourite plots
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2017, 11:13:49 PM »
A trope I personally enjoy is the Avatar-style one of an indigenous people fighting back against higher-tech foreign invaders. Especially if the indigenes in question have a clearly non-Western flavor. In the last five centuries, European imperialists have gone around conquering and brutalizing so much of the world that seeing them get their comeuppance would be satisfying.
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Re: Favourite plots
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2017, 01:46:01 AM »
European imperialists have gone around conquering and brutalizing so much of the world that seeing them get their comeuppance would be satisfying.
Eh... nobody's perfect. Europeans were just imperfect on an alarmingly mass scale :D

Problems with the dreamscape is one plot I tend to particularly like. I like it when nightmares are real. When the character has to face their own demons in order to face their own demons. I'm also a sucker for the standard epic quest to go take out the standard destroy-the-world badguy, with plenty of swords and big battles. But I will drop those books like flies if the characters aren't worth reading about because the plots are generally invariable after you read enough of them. In those cases, I think I actually read for the characters, not the plot.... so I may have to rescind that observation :)
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Re: Favourite plots
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2017, 04:33:31 AM »
I suppose some of these are more themes or tropes than plots, but...

People are the real monsters. Like...in a world where fantasy monsters are real, it's people who are worse than any non-sentient or semi-sentient monster could ever hope to be because a monster's just gotta eat, but a person can be actively malicious.

I am an absolute sucker for "boys go on an adventure" types of stories. Treasure Island is my favorite book ever. (Which is weird because I usually DON'T like child protagonists, but it's the way in which something absolutely horrifying is told through innocent eyes that makes it work for me.)

Generally speaking, I like characters who have been kicked around a bit and plots that proceed to kick them around a bit more. Not "breaking innocence," but...just the way a character who has already been through the ringer responds to a plot that further sends them through the ringer or makes them relive it. They tend to respond differently to those sorts of plots differently than characters who are going through their first horrible situation, and it steers the character arc (and sometimes the entire main plot) in a bit of a different direction.

Generally speaking, I like everything a bit gritty. Like "less-than-adequately-rinsed clam" gritty rather than "tried to eat a sandcastle" gritty. A bit here and there. Enough to make it clear that it's NOT a utopia. Too much grit and it just gets mundane and dull. Too little and it's the Mary-Sue of worlds. There's kind of a range for me, and it can come in more than one form (character traits, scenery, plot), so I'm adding it in here because it can be plot, even though it isn't always.

As for some very specific things in existing works, fantasy and otherwise, that I really liked... (And I'm sorry to anyone who isn't familiar with the fandoms.)

The civil war storyline from Skyrim is a personal favorite. I'm a Stormcloak through and through. (Partly, this is because I played Oblivion before I played Skyrim, and I remembered how the Imperial City treated majority-Nord Bruma. Every county sent someone to help, but the Imperial City, which has more guards than the county seats combined and which also has a standing army, totally refused to aid Bruma at all, knowing that it would likely be flattened like Kvatch. I was roleplaying as a Nord because I've played Nords in every Elder Scrolls game for racial bonus related reasons, specifically, they're quite compatible with the typical build I run in most games where something like a Breton is not. The geographical crossing where the Dragonborn is caught just before the opening goes between County Bruma in Cyrodiil and Falkreath Hold in Skyrim. Presumably my Nord character who has been in County Bruma should have heard about that as well as the repression of Talos worship under the White-Gold Concordat and about Nord war heroes from the Great War, among other things, possibly even about how the Redguard successfully rebelled.) But the non-roleplay reason is that it's at least partially about home rule and personal freedom (in this case, freedom of religion), which are things I hold dear.

I like the personal story of Hancock from Fallout 4. He had a very public falling out with his brother when his brother was elected to office and allowed a racial pogrom against ghouls. He tried to escort as many to safety as he could. He couldn't save everyone. Then he watched thugs murder homeless drifters. He couldn't live with that. He reinvented himself, armed the drifters and outcasts and took over the town where he'd escorted ghouls to safety. He then deliberately became a ghoul himself. It's openly "freaks and outcasts welcome" and "of the people, for the people." It's a much rougher town than the one his brother runs, but it's an argument between safety at the cost of repression versus personal freedom at the cost of a higher crime rate. He's a rather haunted, troubled character who has run from everything in the past.

Although I find the "brooding hero/brooding villain" thing a bit overdone, I quite like the story of the Lich King between Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft. Basically, Arthas was a prince and a paladin, and the undead started attacking his home. He ended up having to contain an outbreak and massacring the infected locals before they could turn to give them a swift, clean death, which was his first atrocity. He was then drawn in by an evil relic and ended up becoming the evil thing he'd been fighting against, including murdering his dad and taking over the rest of his kingdom for the undead. He also went and murdered most of the high elves, turned one notable general, Sylvanas Windrunner, into a banshee (who was later able to break free, reclaim her corpse and swore revenge), and he was eventually forced to atone for his crimes. Neat story where you see how the literal golden boy turns evil, slowly, bit by bit, one act at a time, at first driven to protect and avenge his people and then gets corrupted and slaughters them. I'm not really doing it justice, unfortunately.

As I said, I adore Treasure Island. I think it would be absolutely horrifying if told by one of the adults, but especially one of the pirates, but the fact that it's seen through the eyes of a child... For a younger reader it's just a nice little adventure, but for an older reader who can see what the narrator can't between the lines, it's quite a dark tale. I like those layers.

My favorite book the Harry Potter series, which I actually read at a reasonable age (I probably wouldn't have picked it up if it were coming out now because I generally don't go for YA.), is the third one, Prisoner of Azkaban, because it's a bit dark without really being depressing the way some of the later books can be, and because the bad guy was good all along, which was a nice little twist the first time I read it...good, but certainly not a saint. (I'm presuming I don't need a spoiler tag for a well-known book that came out in 1999.)

I'm particularly fond of The Witcher, both books and games.  As far as Monster Hunter for Hire goes, the way the characters and challenges are handled really make it. It goes back to the "people are the real monsters" thing. When asked about the fact that witchers carry two swords, an iron one for killing men and a silver one for killing monsters (technically, the silver one is only for certain types of monsters, like werewolves, that have to be killed with silver),

The Fable games... It's partly down to the art, but it can be a VERY dark and gritty world, especially Fable 2, with a very cheery cartoonish visual style. Like...the plot of the first two games starts with your entire family being murdered. In the case of the second game, you're an orphan, and your entire family consists of just your older sister. The world is so dark that someone, it's heavily implied, is asking your underage older sister to prostitute herself within the first few minutes of the game. And then she gets shot at the end of the tutorial level.  All with this cheery, bright, cartoonish art style. You can play as good, evil, or neutral...you can be evil vanquishing other evil, but that choice is left to the player. Overall, they're not the best plots ever, but that juxtaposition is the thing I like best about them and anything else that does it, plot or otherwise.