I am writing a book and I've come to some roadblocks in the plot.

Here is the basic storyline:

A tribe of people live in a grand city deep inside the caves and large caverns in a mountain. Outside is so cold and always snowing that someone could freeze to death if they ventured out. The walls of the caverns have a sort of magical crystal all over it that glows, therefor lightening the caves with white light, and also allowing plants to grow. But in result to some accident they all had to leave the city and move to other parts of the mountain's caves and caverns. The maps were lost and somehow the beautiful city with crystals on the walls is lost and thought never to be found again. Several generations later a young man in the city has a map that is the last of it's kind from his great great great grandfather. It tells where the long forgotten and now legendary city is. The young man goes on a journey alone to find the city. He finds the city but does not know that his good friend the princess has followed him. The man is lost because he can not find is way back, but the princess follows his tracks and eventually finds him and the city. The people go in search of the princess when they find she is missing and find her tracks and follow them and soon find her, and the man, and the city. Because there were so many people searching for her they knew the way back and then everyone in the city moves to the wonderful land, the long forgotten legendary crystal city from several generations ago.

That's the happy ending. But I have some problems and I am sure there are more so please tell me of any if you see any.

My problems:

  1. How do I make it realistic that there would be a place such as this; where outside is too cold to live, and the caves somehow give warmth. Perhaps it is a volcano mountain?

  2. How do I make the crystals realistic, does such crystals exist anywhere on earth? Or shall I make it another world where the crystals are natural. Any other ideas?

  3. What would have caused the people to leave the city generations ago, yet without destroying the city by a cave in or anything because they must be able to come back to it later?

  4. It does not seam all that realistic that the princess would be friends with this man who thinks he can find the city. But there needs to be a main character that is attractive to the reader. So if not the princess, who else would make sense? And perhaps the man does not lose himself therefor can go back himself to tell the people.

  5. Since these people live underground and can not go out for long, what would be their main food source?

  6. I would like the man to be rather young, but younger does not make sense, so how young can he be and what past would he have that would motivate him to find this city and have him to happen to have a map from his ancestor?

I would greatly appreciate your input, answer as many questions as you can, and also, I would like as many answers as I can get so I can compare them. And please, be a critic and tell me what's wrong with my story. Thanks a lot!

By the way, this story is copyright 2013. Please don't use the plot anywhere.

  • 2
    It's an interesting premise, but what you have here is mostly worldbuilding questions that don't necessarily pertain to creative writing. I'd suggest posing questions 1, 2, 3, and 5 to a community like reddit.com/r/worldbuilding or an RPG forum. Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 16:36
  • To answer your first question, the temperature in a cave is always 4 degrees Celsius, regardless of the temperature outside. For the second one, try googling "luminescent minerals", there's a lot of them. There are also some algae and bacteria, you can google "bioluminescence" for those. As for the rest of it, it's really up to the writer to come up with the details of the story. You can make this work with both a kid or an old man as a main character, if you set up the right backstory.
    – Tannalein
    Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 20:02
  • 1
    In the temperature of a cave I shall have to disagree. From doing some research I found "The temperature of a cave is directly related to the outside temperature. The thermal mass of bedrock and soil is incredibly high. This is most evident during the spring when the ground thaws after cold winter. Deeper underground the rock temperature will slowly adjust to average air temperature changes but this process takes many years." acoolcave.com/temp.html But thanks for everything else.
    – John Doe
    Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 12:34
  • Hi Lizzy. Plot-developement questions aren't on topic here, so I'm going to close this. We can help you with how to write, but this isn't the best place for world-building questions like this. I hope you'll bring your future writing questions here, and that the suggestions you've received help you find answers to this question. Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 15:55

3 Answers 3


When I read your questions, it made me think about the genres of fantasy vs. science fiction and I wondered whether you know which category you are aiming for. Is it important that you come up with scientific-sounding explanations, or can you simply construct a fantasy world that will support your crystals/etc.? If the crystals and living conditions are the result of some kind of magic, you could use the rules of that magic to explain many of the other plot issues. For example, some kind of powerful/divine/fairy beings could have created the crystals & etc., but attached rules for their use. Perhaps improper use (or neglect of gratitude toward the divine beings) resulted in the city becoming unlivable. Perhaps return is only possible once the divine ones have gotten over being angry, or the people have realized that they must repent.

Other potential reasons for leaving the city that come to mind:

  1. A plague (natural or magical) could have struck. The inhabitants flee the germs, and lose the way back. By the time they actually return the contamination is gone. The same could apply to an attack or infestation of nasty magical bats/insects/gnomes, etc. (plus, they could fight a pitched battle against the nasty magical bats/insects/gnomes at the end to get their city back).

  2. The main group of dwellers could have exiled a small group before themselves getting wiped out by plague, civil war, etc. The exiled folk could repopulate the city once they find their way back.

You have a lot of questions about your story. When I am in the early stages of writing, I find it helpful to make lists of possibilities and potential solutions to such problems (I write down everything that occurs to me, no matter how silly, because the lack of pressure helps me produce more). Once I cross off all of the silly and unworkable ideas, I usually have enough to start with.


Lizzy, you have many elements of a beautiful story here, and with some work you should be able to make a lovely romantic adventure out of it.

Since you are asking for what elements of the story could stand some improvement, I would like to focus on one particular connected stream in the storyline that I think would benefit from some attention. So here's my connected series of questions that really all pertain to the same thing: If there is a map that clearly shows the way back to the original city, why did the great great grandfather not use it to lead everyone back in the first place? Why did no one in that family down through the generations not use it ever before? If it didn't come to light for some reason until this particular young man found it, why did he not show it to the whole community? Why did he not show it to the leaders of the community so they could lead everyone back to the original city? If he was a friend of the princess, why did he not show it to the princess? If he decided to go off on his own (which seems like a dangerous and foolhardy thing to do) why would he not take some kind of precautions for his own safety? If the princess was going to follow him, why would she not follow him closely enough so that she wouldn't have to "follow his tracks?" If the young man had a map that could get him to the original city, how could he get lost? He could just follow the map back again. Even if he did get lost, you say the princess could follow his tracks to find him; why couldn't he follow his own tracks back and rescue himself? If the princess wanted to go save her friend, why wouldn't she go with a rescue party? She's a princess, after all.

Plausibility in a storyline rests on paying very careful attention to microscopic details like this, so I hope you can see why it's worth my pointing them out. Best wishes on your story!

  • I know I have many challenges to attend to, but you have just given me more questions. Do by any chance have some answers to some of the questions already stated? Thanks.
    – John Doe
    Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 20:23
  • Well, Lizzy, of course I could give you MY answers, but those would simply be things I made up, and that would be how I would write it. It would be MY version of the story, not yours. The questions are posed by story itself, and you, the writer, must answer them yourself. Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 5:02
  • Okay, I get it.
    – John Doe
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 13:39

My two cents:

  1. Perhaps the cave is warmed up by geothermal heated groundwater from the earth's crust.
  2. The crystals could be two types that by mere proximity have a reaction to each other that cause light.
  3. Perhaps people left because of famine, war or extreme weather. The cave could be within a day's walk and not vulnerable to the aforementioned possibilities.
  4. The princess could know the man and like the man because he is an artist and she experienced one of his paintings or songs.
  5. The man, if he was an artist as described above, could have seen a painting/drawing as a child that described this cave/city and has always been curious. He could have dreams/visions that call to him and compel him to go on a journey.
  • If I had the ability (more reputation), I would up vote your answer! Thanks.
    – John Doe
    Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 14:29

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