My story is about an alien planet, the aliens call it "Creatchiuhk" (Although I may change that name.)

In 2078, the "New Soviet Union" discovers a power source to go extremely fast in space. They colonize planets, and find the planet of the story in 2089. They genetically modify them, until they become very humanlike.

By 2100, they set up a Marxist-Leninist economy and system of government. By 2156, the government was overthrown. Over time, this democratic government is corrupted, and the aliens are so hateful towards socialism and communism, that they become a laissez-faire capitalist totalitarian regime, isolationist, and reactionary.

That is not the main story, but the prologue. The main character, yet to have a name, lives on this planet and is (figuratively) brainwashed into thinking it is a great place. He will go on to destroy the government with a group of people, and replace it, with help from other planets. I don't want help with how he will do that, I can do that myself.

What I want to know is, is this a good idea? If so, how might the main character realize how bad his home is? I want him to realize this near the beginning of the story.

  • 2
    Throw that prolog in the trash, and start writing from your MC's naive point of view –– he didn't read the exposition dump, and (for empathy reasons) neither should the reader.
    – wetcircuit
    Sep 13, 2022 at 3:55
  • 1
    is this a good idea? They're all good ideas if your story is written well enough. Sep 13, 2022 at 12:12

1 Answer 1


To be a good idea, we have to identify with the hero; we have to (at least quickly, if not immediately) identify with him.

Follow the 3 Act Structure (3AS). No prologue. Paradoxically this really has 4 about equal length acts, but the middle two are often lumped together, hence the 3AS.

In ACT I, 1/4 of the story, we have a midpoint. The first 1/8th we introduce our lead character, operating in their normal world. This is your chance to build the world, let us know it is alien, let us get to see your hero (or heroes) living their normal life. At the midpoint of Act I, introduce your inciting incident: The thing that is going to (immediately or eventually) change everything for your hero.

Your hero will try to address this and return to his normal life, but cannot. In the second half of Act I, the incident escalates into forcing the hero to abandon their normal world (figuratively or physically), the important thing is their attitude is changed: The ramifications of the inciting incident are now everything, he must deal with it.

For your story, the inciting incident is something that turns your hero from whatever he was, into a rebel intent on bringing down the government. By the end of Act I, he has left his normal world, and is now a full time rebel.

Act II.A (1/4) is rising conflict, the story becomes more complex, up until you find another turning point at the midpoint. Act II.B (1/4) after the midpoint, things start to get resolved, but often not in a good way. By the end of Act II.B, things look desperate. The plans have not worked out, key people are lost. But the hero is not quite dead yet.

In Act III (1/4), the hero tries one last desperate attempt, a Hail Mary, risking their life for their ideals. Think of Luke Skywalker making the final run on the Death Star, trying to make an impossible shot at a tiny target, pursued by X-Wings. He'll die if doesn't make it. But he trusts and uses The Force, and prevails.

That's how your hero fights a big oppressive government; and you wouldn't be "stealing" it from Star Wars: Star Wars follows the 3AS (with original heroes and villains), and so can you.

Other than that, I'd warn against unpronounceable names; they do not create interest, they are interest killers. Nobody knows how to pronounce "Creatchiuhk". And do not write a prologue; we can watch that Star Wars movie without any exposition at all, the tech and culture and government is all built into the story.

Most agents will reject a book out of hand if it begins with a prologue; it is a sign of an amateur writer. Which you may be, but you don't have to look like one.

Do not open with a "thinking on the bus" opening, either (your hero thinking about their history and life while doing nothing at all, or riding, or jogging, or whatever). Open with a scene, and have your main character doing something and interacting with other characters within the first 3 pages. If an agent doesn't see that, there is a high probability of rejection.

No prologue, and no trying to sneak in a prologue through "contemplation" or "calm reflection". These are forms of "telling" because there is no scene to imagine, no action to visualize. Which means you are just giving the reader a list of facts to memorize, and they won't.

"Show don't Tell" means everything must happen in scenes with action that implicitly convey any necessary information about the world and people in it. It isn't easy, but get used to it, that's the skill of writing.

Good luck.

  • 2
    "we can watch that Star Wars movie without any exposition at all" Wait, don't the Star Wars movies actually start with a scrolling text full of exposition?
    – user54131
    Sep 13, 2022 at 16:46
  • 1
    @towr Yes, but if you ignore it, you still get the movie. And that is 3 paragraphs of exposition; less than 60 seconds, and just "plot in progress", it is not "world building". And basically all of that "plot in progress" was actually shown in the movie.
    – Amadeus
    Sep 13, 2022 at 17:46
  • That's so formulaic that I want to gag and tell you how wrong you are. Only I can't, because it's sickeningly true. A good author can vary up the details, but you can get away with the formula and it's likely to get you published. <sigh>
    – DWKraus
    Sep 14, 2022 at 1:03
  • @DWKraus The 3AS was not invented, it was discovered, just like The Hero's Journey, by studying hundreds of very successful stories and figuring out what they have in common. Those authors did not work by a 3AS, they stumbled on something that works. Studying and finding the essentials of what already works is science. We aren't "getting away" with the formula; we are standing on the shoulders of giants. If you are writing only for yourself, follow your muse. But if we really want to entertain an actual commercial audience, we need to learn the story mechanics they naturally expect.
    – Amadeus
    Sep 14, 2022 at 10:10

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