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What are some tricks you can use to write a good story if you don't know how people talk and behave? Are there some tips and tricks on how to be able to still write a good story if you try to avoid making your characters talk as much as possible to not show how clueless you are about how normal people react in certain situations? It feels like if you put your characters in tense situations and you're clueless about what's normal behaviour, it just invariably make the story worse.

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  • Plotting makes the story impact the characters. People behave differently in different circumstances and under different stresses. Modern stories follow a conflict arc, beginning when characters don't know there is a conflict (their normal state), then experiencing an escalating conflict until they are forced to react and deal with it…. Abstract your character problem into a conflict with a beginning, middle, and resolution. Plotting will help you connect the dots. Characters change because their circumstances change. (Talk doesn't change anything, it just reveals character biases)
    – wetcircuit
    Jan 16, 2022 at 12:19
  • You could always populate your story with aliens. No one knows how they talk and behave.
    – user54131
    Jan 16, 2022 at 16:19

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There are no normal people. Everyone's going to react differently, so it's your choice what they do.

But for tips, think what you would do. In fact, that's how I almost always write, basing nearly all my characters off of people I know or myself. If you don't know how they would act, ask them!

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A few basic tricks:

  • think about your story arc
  • think about the specific scene
  • get to know your characters

think about your story arc

This is perhaps the first thing to do. Ask yourself:

What is the starting point, what is the end point?

Without a story arc in mind you're doing a wild form of exploration writing, which given your question would seem to be highly discouraged.

think about the specific scene you are trying to craft

While you are writing, it is always a good idea to ask yourself three questions:

What is the goal of this scene?

What should the reader feel about this scene?

How does this scene progress the story arc?

get to know your characters.

Before you start writing your story, place each of your characters in various situations and craft their actions in a manner that is coherent and consequential to how you imagine them. These scenarios may have nothing to do with your story, that is you could imagine them going to the local mall, or out for fine dining, or blasting an asteroid that is about to hit their home planet.

Characters do not need to feel real, but they need to feel consequential and coherent. A reader can follow the Joker despite him being way larger than life because the Joker's behaviour is coherent with what is expected of him. The same goes for the alien in Alien, or Sauron.

While it may help to craft certain stories in certain genres, in the bigger picture knowing how people talk and behave is irrelevant: you just really need coherence.

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