the Rubber Duck Thread

As I’ve mentioned before, it would be nice to have thread around here that we could use to talk about our ideas when we’re stuck. It’s called the rubber duck thread because like with coding, sometimes when things don’t work out and you don’t know where you went wrong, it helps to tell someone who is completely uninvolved - it can even be a literal rubber duck.
So this thread is where you can come to if you feel a need to talk - but, of course, you can give your input on others’ thoughts, too, or ask quick questions.

Hey! (I really love this thread, and I’m glad to be able to use it!) I’m having some trouble with a character in the story I’m creating. Her original name was [name_f]Lola[/name_f] [name_u]Mackenzie[/name_u]. I thought it was a simple enough name, and since many people tie it to being bada**, and I think it fits my character perfectly, since she’s a teenage girl battling cancer. [name_u]Mackenzie[/name_u] is a family name, (my family, not the character’s family) and since it’s a bit long, I thought it matched perfectly. But then I started to have doubts. I also truly love the name [name_f]Stephanie[/name_f] [name_m]Maddox[/name_m]. (nn [name_u]Steph[/name_u]) Since ‘crown’ is the meaning of [name_f]Stephanie[/name_f], it also ties to the story since her mother is a fashion designer who is always on the road. She likes vintage clothing a lot, so naming her daughter [name_f]Stephanie[/name_f] would seem practical. [name_m]Maddox[/name_m] is a name chosen in honor of a great friend of mine, so it feels special to me. If it helps, here are some things that might help you spark up some ideas:

Age: 14 (birthday is [name_u]January[/name_u] 17th)
Personality: Bold, quick-witted, humorous, but slightly anxious & shy about being her true self until the end of the story.
Appearance: [name_m]Light[/name_m] brown hair with highlights that are cut into a messy/shaggy pixie cut. Dark brown eyes and a slightly turned up nose. Tall for her age.
Interests: Playing the drums, (They help ease her stress) taking nature walks, and photography.

Thanks! (P.S. Her surname is Hollingshead)

I think both [name_f]Lola[/name_f] and [name_f]Stephanie[/name_f] could suit your character. I’m leaning towards [name_f]Lola[/name_f] [name_u]Mackenzie[/name_u], just because I don’t see [name_m]Maddox[/name_m] fitting your character. I know it has a lot of personal significance to you, but, given the information provided, I can’t see the connection to the story itself. Is there another character that could use the name [name_m]Maddox[/name_m]?

I love the sound of [name_f]Lola[/name_f] [name_u]Mackenzie[/name_u] Hollingshead / [name_f]Lola[/name_f] Hollingshead :slight_smile:

@nic_blondie -
I definitely see your point! It always helps to hear someone else voice their opinion. I have a certain character that would totally rock the name [name_m]Maddox[/name_m], so I think it all works out! Thank you so much!!:smiley:

I have this scene where I’m unsure if it’s enough of a scene already. Because… nothing actually happens.

About 12,000 words in, I’m introducing a new plotline with new characters that are mostly distinct from my main crew. I talk about the setting (the police office), who’s present (two young policewomen and a retired computer scientist), their dynamic towards each other (the women are best freinds, one is more calm and one is loud, they watch over the old man because he’s been showing signs of dementia), and mention another character that will become important later as a “hook” (arise questions about him so people will want to keep reading).
I want to end the scene with the reader finding out that the police has been monitoring my main characters (and everyone else, surveillance hooray), which had been hinted at but wasn’t known for sure. And now I wonder if that revelation is enough to call it a scene on its own, to make it a point in the story, because although the reader learns something new, nothing really happens in-universe.

edit: I figured it out. I’m gonna do a time jump, have this happen 6-7 weeks after the previous scene, and tell the things that happened to the main cast in the mean time by having the new characters mention it.

I’ve been trying to plan out a new idea I have for a YA novel (maybe series?? [name_u]Haven[/name_u]‘t gotten that far yet) all summer in attempt to get ready for NaNoWriMo this year. It’s my first year of college and I have no idea what my life will be like in [name_u]November[/name_u], so I want to be as prepared as possible. I’ve been scouring Pinterest and writing blogs trying to do things the “right” way for this novel, such as planning out characters and symbols and motives which is all fine and dandy of course, and also probably gonna be helpful in the long run, but is incredibly boring right now. I just want to have some real plot ideas, some actual action, something I can play back in my head when I can’t fall asleep at night but so far I have nothing! Well I have bits and pieces but no hardcore action or fighting scenes and I don’t know where I can find them. I’ve written myself into a hole and I’ve barely started writing yet! I’ve planned myself into a hole, I guess. I’ve considered telling the story from both the protagonists’ and the antagonist’s points of view (because I really like my antagonist) to try and up the action but would that be weird/dumb? Would it just take away any mystery or suspense in the story? I know you can’t force a story so I’m trying to let whatever happens happen but nothing is happening and I’m frustrated >:(.
(This is more of a rant than a cry for help, but any advice would be great).

Mapping out a story is all fine and good, but I sometimes experience the same “planned into a hole” feeling that you’re experiencing right now. In those situations, it usually helps me to just delete all my notes and write whatever comes to mind. You might feel like you wasted a lot of time looking for just the right symbol or the characters don’t pan out the way you first imagined, but that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with brainstorming ideas, but sometimes it seems like doing things the “right” way comes at the expense of your own creativity :confused:

Most professional writers go through multiple drafts before they settle on a final product. You’re going to be editing and changing things anyway when you go back and proofread your work, and you can take that opportunity to maybe add in one of your original ideas, or drop your current plot point for a completely new one.

The antagonist vs. protagonist POVs could be interesting! It’s always neat to see from villain’s perspective why they think that their actions are justified and vice versa. I definitely think you would still have plenty of room to squeeze in plot twists and surprises for the reader with that idea :slight_smile:

@sparkleninja, if you have no idea where to start, try a writing prompt. Put your characters in illogical situations to brainstorm how they’d react. You’re likely not using any of this later, but that doesn’t matter. Once, when I didn’t know how to introduce a new character, I wrote a wikipedia entry on her father, just to get me thinking about the family.

Writing from both hero’s and villain’s POV sounds interesting!

What the hell even is a plot and where can I get one because my brain is not working…

Hey [name_u]Abby[/name_u] this might help you: :smiley:
https://68.media.tumblr.com/e0ba50fc071d33ca67253f0af94caa81/tumblr_njfa5kaVSL1tr2nhbo1_500.png

@sparkleninja did you find something?

I wrote myself into a hole again, yay
So there are 2 five-year-olds in my story (from MC’s POV, a cousin and the LI’s brother) and it looks like they’re going to meet? But? They can’t?

MC, LI and brother are at LI’s home, they want to leave because the parents are fighting, where can they go? MC wants to visit his older cousin anyway, to ask her about the 5yo cousin (who’s kind of living in the underground and MC has only recently found out about him), so that’s where they would go, but they can’t take the brother because he couldn’t keep the secret, but they can’t leave him at home with the fighting parents either?
Dropping him off at a friend’s place on the way would feel a bit deus ex, never having established said friend and never using them again later
I kind of want them to take him along so the children meet, but Older Cousin wouldn’t even tell MC the secret until recently, so how do I justify telling a 5yo total stranger?

Could you find a way to have the characters distract the five year old? They could frame it like they’re playing a game and tell him to go count all of a certain object or go find something specific. It’s a way to get rid of him without actually getting rid of him.

If you absolutely want the two kids to meet, maybe have the five year old pop back into the frame unexpectedly to say something to the other characters, and then he finds the other child with them. That way the older cousin has a reason to explain what’s going on without it seeming out of character.

I hope that explanation made sense and that I got all the characters in order, lol. Hopefully it will at least give you a possible idea or two.

I’m working on it. I have more of a plot than I did a week ago! Loved your post! I really thought I answered it but it seems that my college brain forgot yet another thing, lol.

Could the older cousin meet them somewhere? Like maybe they all went to get pizza or just grab a cup of coffee.

@sparkleninja thanks and no problem. Tell us about your plot any time! I’m so curious!
However, meeting somewhere else doesn’t work, leaving the house isn’t really in her (the older cousin’s) skillset.

@sansavesper thank you, I don’t know why I didn’t see that myself. I actually love the counting idea, since little ones don’t know how very high numbers work, he’s gonna be like “there are one million billion thousand plants in the garden” :smiley:

[name_f]Glad[/name_f] you found something!

Well, it’s not super clear yet, and I’m not 100% set on it. What I know for sure though is the story centers around 5 teens who have superpowers (“skills”, as they call them) that conflict with their personalities or other parts of their life. For example, one of the girls will sometimes accidentally “flare up” and cause a large explosion without warning, but her world was destroyed by someone like her. One of the boys has constant nightmares about drowning but can control water.
What I think I want to do is something similar to the “Chosen One” plot except the one that is supposed to save everyone is the antagonist because the title has gone to her head, and she wants to get rid of anyone who disagrees with her.

But like I said, I’m not set on anything yet :slight_smile:

@sparkleninja do you read tumblr sometimes? I could swear I read about an idea similar to yours somewhere… not that I think you stole it or that you shouldn’t write it, please don’t think that. The idea wasn’t that similar. [name_m]Just[/name_m] wondering if that’s where you got the inspiration.

Not a question, just ranting, why tf doesn’t german have gender neutral pronouns? [name_m]How[/name_m] am I even supposed to write this scene without dropping their name in every single sentence?
…ehrm I mean I’m glad for this chance to grow as a writer through these unique challenges

I love the idea of this thread! This is really helpful for writers who need to bounce ideas off people. Raises hand

I am currently in a state of confusion, and my novel is now aimlessly floating on without orientation. This story is really old, so I want to completely change it. And I used to love fantasy, but now I’m pretty much a hardcore sci-fi fan.

Originally, it was historical/ fantasy fiction.
The main character was named [name_m]Wilfrid[/name_m] Voynich, who was actually a real person. He was a historian who discovered the ‘Voynich manuscript’, a cyphered book that professors have been trying to crack for 600 years. The purpose of the book in my story was a guide to a mythical safe place where he can escape the war, but first, he had to pass through fantasy-like challenges along the way.

Looking back, I think that this is a ridiculous plotline. I mean, he escaped a war to find a safe place, but to get to this safe place he has to pass challenges far more dangerous than the war. [name_m]How[/name_m] does this make sense?? Plus, his friend is there to guide him, so technically he doesn’t even need the book. I’m going to get rid of this plotline, but I’ll still call my MC [name_m]Wilfrid[/name_m].

I guess the thing I need to get out of the way is if I should make a made-up world. Because the idea I like the most is of two strong nations preparing for war, which will have devastating results. So one of my MCs, [name_m]Junius[/name_m], wants to stop it and save his homeland. He basically lies to [name_m]Wilfrid[/name_m] + family, getting them out of their own war by promising a safe place, and dragging them to a much bigger one. He has two or three close friends that he brings as well. In that way, he’s an anti-hero. The question is, why does he need [name_m]Wilfrid[/name_m] + fam and his friends? Why are they special?
I guess that my story would need a made-up world to make sense, but I don’t want to pull a fantasy ~magical~ secret world in my story. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not my taste. But I have little options. The future? In space? On [name_f]Earth[/name_f] but in an alternate Universe? I don’t even need [name_m]Wilfrid[/name_m] to live in 20th Century [name_f]England[/name_f], heck, I could pull a Gotham and make the era they live in really obscure. I just don’t know what to do, if you were reading this story, what would interest you the most?

Aaah so sorry for this big block of text and rambling, I hope I made sense haha :smiley:

@wintersolstice, I’ll do my best to help!

Personally, I love it when books occur in similar but parallel universes. As much fun as it is to have a story that exists on [name_f]Earth[/name_f], in real places that you can go and visit, I also think it can sometimes “date” a book. For instance, I have a hard time reading about and relating to characters named [name_f]Michelle[/name_f], [name_f]Karen[/name_f], or [name_f]Melissa[/name_f] because I associate those as “mom” names and not teenager or young adult names, if that makes sense. So my vote goes to an alternate universe.

As to why they are special, perhaps they know something important? Like maybe the family works for the government, or whatever your equivalent is in your story, and they have information that could help stop the war. Or maybe they have knowledge about how to make a weapon or something.

Good luck!

Or he made a promise to save them to someone in a position of power, like a relative who wouln’t help him unless he know’s the family is save, or even a higher being/someone diguising themselves as one.

Also it’s too bad you dropped that idea, a book about the Voynich Manuscript sounds super interesting!

Does my MC really need a motive? I know he does but he’s being really secretive about it right now and it’s pissing me off… probably a good thing because I’m in the middle of a hell week of exams and papers and I really shouldn’t be doing anything else right now.