Writer Wednesday – Overdone Plots

First, an update: While I got some very positive feedback about the game designed in the Game Chef challenge, I did not move forward into the next round. As the others I was up against in this round didn’t move forward either, I suspect each of us only got two or less votes out of the four reviewers. Unfortunate, but not uncommon. Hopefully people have had a chance to enjoy the game and I will still update it and try to polish it up a bit in the future after I get a little playtesting feedback.

On the matter of today’s topic, it is exactly what it sounds like. In every genre there are a slew of overdone plots. These are almost sure to get you in the slush pile and well away from publication unless you have fame on your side. Most of the time not even then.

A quick glance around the internet will quickly make it clear just how many irritable editors and agents there are who are sick and tired of the same sorts of redundant story attempts. Almost every one of them has a list that will instantly qualify you for an instant form letter. You might ask them and they might even offer an answer, but let’s be honest here. Everything on their list is going to show up in a quick online search.

Where to even begin? Okay, if the story in any way ends where it was all a dream, it was all a work of fiction where the writer finishes at the end and gets up, or anything similar to that… Don’t even write it. Every single writer ever has had the idea and it is generally not very good. If you write the most amazing work of fiction ever to see ink, it’ll never get seen because they won’t bother to look. This includes insanity or VR endings.

Here’s one I am guilty of; The future is an empty soulless place until someone finds a book or person who is an anachronistic individual. Yeah, I know that dystopian futures are all the rage, but there is a difference between a dim future and a soulless future.

And now for a quick list of a bit over a dozen other common plots to find in a massive slush pile for almost every editor and agent.

  • Protagonist sits around for a bit of time, then turns out to be either a serial killer or dead.
  • Characters are described in a manner that seems human, but in the end turn out to be something other than human. (I was almost guilty of this one once as well.)
  • Pests described by the protagonists turn out to be humans.
  • Aliens lay eggs under the skin or in the stomach of people.
  • Diplomat visits some other location, but ignores information that would have kept them out of trouble.
  • Floating in some hard to describe place like a void and then turn out to be born.
  • Describing a place without any plot or characters. (Yes, this happens.)
  • White protagonist gets help from some native holy or wise man.
  • Real world people transporting to an RPG setting.
  • RPG style party of characters doing typical game activities. (No one but you wants to read your game journal. Sorry.)
  • Aliens who get things wrong to comedic effect. (Misunderstanding something that should be obvious to them or being super literal.)
  • Someone calls tech support and weird things happen.
  • Bad guys do bad things and suffer in the end.
  • Bad guys do bad things but at the last moment they see the error of their ways.

And the list goes on and on. Seriously, you have read at least one of these or seen it in a movie. If you are lucky, it was done really well. Don’t be the million people getting rejected and just save the plot for if you ever get famous. That is about the only chance you have of getting your story out there with this sort of thing. They aren’t even all bad stories really, just done so often that no one wants to pay for yet another of ‘those’ stories.

What are your thoughts?