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Questions tagged [structure]

For questions about the connections between and ordering of elements within a written work.

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147 votes
20 answers
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How do you write a Stack Exchange answer?

Over my years on StackExchange I've come to view answering SE questions as its own, highly specialized writing subgenre, with its own demands, and its own ideal format. By trial and error, and ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
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39 votes
8 answers
33k views

How do I stop using 'the' to start sentences so much?

Something that always bothers me in my writing is how often I start sentences with the word "the". A terrible nonsensical example: The dog ran through the rain-swept streets, chasing a ball he ...
linksassin's user avatar
  • 4,152
34 votes
5 answers
5k views

How much can a reader remember?

I've been writing some fantasy. Now, inevitably because its a big piece of fantasy, its all very involved with the world, culture, story and general bits. Personally, I'm really enjoying writing it. ...
Featherball's user avatar
  • 4,429
33 votes
4 answers
17k views

Dashes vs. Commas vs. parentheses?

Occasionally I write sentences containing subparts with extra information. I never know how to block off this information from the rest of the sentence. Three ways I have seen are dashes, commas, and ...
Wolf's Dilemma's user avatar
29 votes
5 answers
6k views

Writing garbage to see if the characters do something interesting?

I need a change ~ 80% of the way through my story. At the moment, I'm just throwing my characters into different combinations and seeing if they come up with anything interesting. Two of my ...
SFWriter's user avatar
  • 23.8k
26 votes
7 answers
6k views

How can I make "acts of patience" exciting?

This answer to the question Averting Real Women Don’t Wear Dresses introduces a distinction between acts of patience and acts of daring. [...] when it comes to telling a story [...] acts of daring ...
sesquipedalias's user avatar
22 votes
17 answers
6k views

Are complex sentences uncommon or unwanted in English?

I wrote my opinion essay using a lot of different complex grammatical structures, linking words and so on, and some of the sentences were even over 4 lines long. However, I was afterwards told by my ...
user avatar
22 votes
8 answers
6k views

How should a big universe be introduced without being boring?

If I have a big universe that I need to set up, with lots of characters, lots of locations, magic rules, technology, government rules, is it okay to introduce and explain all of this at the beginning? ...
SomeBeginner's user avatar
19 votes
4 answers
3k views

Should cliffhangers be used in every chapter?

This is not a great question but I use a lot of cliffhangers. And I have a habit of making cliffhangers in the end of every chapter that I write just to hook the reader. The question is, is it a good ...
Amin Mohamed Ajani's user avatar
18 votes
4 answers
11k views

What's a typical trilogy structure?

Is there a typical structure for a fantasy trilogy? To be more specific, would they usually follow the three-act structure, with an act per book? And would each book need a self-contained story arc ...
Lexi's user avatar
  • 3,191
17 votes
4 answers
4k views

Would it be wise to make the turning point of a story coincidental?

I've written a fictional story and the way my characters are coming together and forming a bond seems way too coincidental to me. A lady lives on the first floor while her tenant, a guy, lives on ...
Nikki's user avatar
  • 455
17 votes
10 answers
3k views

Is there a method to estimating the length of a work before writing it?

I am writing my first novel, which I think likely will end up being several volumes. Although I have a lot of experience in poetry and short stories, this is a very different challenge! My question ...
DoctorWhom's user avatar
17 votes
6 answers
3k views

How important are good looking people in a novel/story?

I've read many books where the main protagonists are described as good looking people with Greek god looks, plenty of sex appeal, the perfect figure and all that. As a reader, how important would it ...
srini's user avatar
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17 votes
5 answers
2k views

Eliminating the Dash in Prose Writing

I have been accused — shock, horror — of using the dash (the one that indicates a three-quarters pause) too much in my fiction. Thing is — I quite like the effect (the space inserted in sentences by ...
robertcday's user avatar
  • 7,753
17 votes
4 answers
49k views

Where should I put my tl;dr?

By definition TL;DR, short for "too long; didn't read", is Internet slang to say that some text being replied to has been ignored because of its length. In slang it can also stand for "...
Vylix's user avatar
  • 763
16 votes
14 answers
2k views

Is it bad storytelling to have things happen by complete chance?

Background I recently noticed in my latest masterpiece novel there is quite a lot of things happening by chance. For example: The main character just happens to pass by an old, frail warrior who can ...
Featherball's user avatar
  • 4,429
15 votes
7 answers
6k views

Promoting controversial opinions in a work of fiction

I'm writing a first person novel and main character has highly controversial views, many of which the majority of people would probably consider immoral. Would a character with controversial attitudes ...
rus9384's user avatar
  • 413
15 votes
6 answers
6k views

Do I really need to have a message in a novel to appeal to readers?

I am in the process of the writing a book. It is not my first attempt. My goals for the book are: Naturally, appeal to my target audience and with work and luck, sell well. Invoke the same emotions, ...
user avatar
15 votes
7 answers
4k views

How to avoid the 'magic explanation' info dump in Fantasy novels

In the second book of his Inheritence Cycle, Christopher Paolini makes the grievous error of landing his main character in the middle of a serene woodland where he must sit and talk with an old elf ...
Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron's user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
10k views

When we start a book from the climax (from the middle of the chapter), what is it called?

Let's say that we have a plot that goes from A-Z and M is the middle (climax) part of it. There is this style of writing in which we start from M, then again back to A-Z. At the start of a book is ...
Mugen's user avatar
  • 315
15 votes
5 answers
5k views

People like my book, starting halfway through

This is kind of an alternate take on my other recent question, as well as the inverse problem to this question. I've been told by more than one beta reader that there's a specific chapter where they ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k
15 votes
4 answers
2k views

How do I avoid a “mid-story info dump?”

I am revising the manuscript for a novel. About a third into the story, a major turning point occurs when the main character (through whom the reader follows the story) realizes that things are not at ...
Cliff Hangerson Page's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
212k views

Using P.S. in a formal email

I had a quick question in regards to using P.S. I just finished writing up a formal follow-up email for an interview. I touched over a lot of information and brought up some new topics. Anyway, I ...
Austin's user avatar
  • 253
14 votes
6 answers
1k views

Little disjointed scenes

My MC is going through boot camp. Physically and mentally, he goes from high-school boy to soldier prepared for combat. Along the way there's struggles, there's new friendships formed, there's the ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
14 votes
4 answers
2k views

Should I include an appendix for inessential, yet related worldbuilding to my story?

I'm of the opinion that a story should stand on its own; any worldbuilding that is necessary for the plot and story to function should be part of the story. However, at the same time, the world I ...
Matthew Dave's user avatar
  • 9,134
14 votes
5 answers
20k views

How to avoid repetitive sentence structure?

I've realized that I always start sentences with (name of character), he, she, it, they, her, his, the, after (a moment/that), and then. I wonder if there's any useful exercise or tip to reduce this? ...
wyc's user avatar
  • 12.4k
13 votes
12 answers
23k views

Example of a fictional story without any characters (the story being 1000+ words)

Guessing that there is no such example, but if there is, I'm very interested in knowing about it. Just as a short example, just to make it clear it's possible; the example is not intended to be a ...
blunders's user avatar
  • 337
13 votes
11 answers
3k views

Antagonist that remains unknown

In genre fiction, the antagonist is usually either known throughout the book or revealed before the end, so that protagonist and antagonist can battle it out during climax. What I am wondering is, ...
user avatar
13 votes
5 answers
929 views

How to write from the middle?

My biggest problem as a writer is that I always get inspired and then start writing from the middle, in particular scenes or moments which I think will be crucial. Climaxes. These scenes turn out ...
Alexander Gruber's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
3k views

How far into a speculative novel should one go before introducing the central conflict?

By speculative, I mean mostly science fiction, fantasy or intrigue. For example Neal Stephenson's Anathem, which is a 900-page book, goes well past the 200-page mark before the central conflict ...
HNL's user avatar
  • 837
12 votes
6 answers
4k views

How to Write a Colossal Cast of Characters

I'm planning a book series called The Weasel Sagas. Things have been going great up until now, where I've realized I've hit a bit of a problem: I've come up with backstories for so many different ...
The Weasel Sagas's user avatar
12 votes
8 answers
2k views

Should mystery stories have resolutions?

I'm working on the finishing touches of a story that has as part of the plot a possibly-supernatural mystery. I'm feeling rather nervous about the whole thing though because said mystery isn't the ...
Wendigo King's user avatar
12 votes
4 answers
4k views

Why does all scene writing advice insist on the scene lead having a clear goal when this is often not practiced in bestsellers?

I've been reading a lot of books on scene writing. One thing in common--found in every single book--is that the main character in the scene should have a goal. That goal should be made obvious as ...
Steve L's user avatar
  • 233
12 votes
2 answers
3k views

What is an arena-driven story?

There is an answer here from FraEnrico which is the cause for my question: What is the difference between character-driven stories and plot-driven stories?. Here he explains a bit of what an "arena ...
Hanilucas's user avatar
  • 1,225
12 votes
5 answers
12k views

Why Use Excessively Short Chapters?

Some of my favorite Frank Herbert books go 70 pages between chapters. All the James Patterson books go 2-3 pages between each chapter. I know non-fiction uses chapters to help navigate, which means ...
pblock's user avatar
  • 345
12 votes
6 answers
3k views

How do you visualize plot structure?

I want to visualize the internal structure of my plot. I noticed several contradictions, and want to better understand what's going on in my tale. I'm not talking about different characters doing ...
user avatar
12 votes
4 answers
2k views

Preventing genre-savvy second-guessing in murder mysteries

In a murder mystery, most of the story is generally focused on figuring out who the murderer is; in "Fair-Play" mysteries, it's assumed the murderer is a significant character in the book, and the fun ...
Standback's user avatar
  • 28.3k
11 votes
6 answers
2k views

Mentioning quickly repeated events in first person?

When writing in first person, is it better to mention as little repetition of events as possible? Or can it improve writing in some cases to have a character duplicate previous events and have them ...
Jonathon D.'s user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

Structure for software documentation: long vs short pages

For online, developer-centered documentation for a complex software product, which structure is going to be more usable: a smaller number of long, comprehensive pages, or a larger number of more ...
user avatar
11 votes
7 answers
1k views

How do I write a MODERN combat/violence scene without being dry?

Warning: I have ADHD and this might be a little ramble-y, sorry. I'm completely stumped. I'm trying to get into writing fiction but I feel that I've hit a roadblock. My story is told from the first ...
Carlos Cienfuegos's user avatar
11 votes
5 answers
9k views

Choosing between your Mother Tongue and another language

OK, I know I was warned, but what can I do? I had this question for a very long time. I have decided where to write (platform like computer or notepad), I am in the middle of deciding my way of ...
rptwsthi's user avatar
  • 257
10 votes
5 answers
2k views

Section of a book that explains things

I am writing a fantasy novel and there are many elements that will need explaining, such as precious items, cities, creatures, and certain terms. A glossary won't suffice and I'm stuck as to what ...
M.Y. David's user avatar
  • 1,024
10 votes
7 answers
5k views

Do Novels follow a 3 Act/2 Plot Point structure like most Movie Scripts?

Many Movie scripts use a Structure where there are 3 Acts (Setup, Climax, Resolution) with 2 Plot Points (end of Act 1 and end of Act 2) (Three Act Structure) I wonder if there are standards for ...
Michael Stum's user avatar
  • 2,003
10 votes
3 answers
239 views

Does a repository of analytical breakdowns of stories exist?

I'm a data scientist and for my next project I'm looking for a location where I can find stories broken down by structure. I.e. The basics of the seven point story structure, or wikipedia dramatic ...
Tolure's user avatar
  • 201
9 votes
5 answers
3k views

Is it okay for a chapter's POV to shift as it progresses?

I have this duo in my novel, they're always together in chapters. Usually the story alternates between them within their plot, though mostly leaning to one of the characters, as he's one of the MCs ...
A. Kvåle's user avatar
  • 4,043
9 votes
8 answers
1k views

The problem with beginning

I don't mean "sitting down to write", I mean the literal beginning. The story itself starts with my protagonist running. I need to get him to run, then I'll have the rest of it sorted. But won't ...
Irysik's user avatar
  • 91
9 votes
6 answers
547 views

How much indirection is too much?

I'm writing a chapter with a lot of indirection, and I'm wondering if I'm doing too much of it. To be specific, it is the main character remembering an event from his youth when a merchant who stayed ...
celtschk's user avatar
  • 4,017
9 votes
4 answers
2k views

What are some examples of an inciting incident that would force a character to go on a quest or adventure?

I've noticed that my novel is missing a really strong inciting incident and I can't think of anything strong enough to suffice. The only inciting incidents I'm familiar with seeing in nearly every ...
Nsim's user avatar
  • 353
9 votes
4 answers
1k views

How to make a dumb decision as a character and still not let the reader to think same about him?

My character is a police detective. But not the best one. I'm trying to stay away from idealizations in this book. Characters will make normal, human, mistakes; they'll change their minds and be more ...
Ernedar's user avatar
  • 573
9 votes
3 answers
1k views

How to start a technical book?

Well, I am a experienced software developer and looking at question made by friends that are learning, questions over the internet and StackExchange, I noticed that I eventually could help more people ...
y3i12's user avatar
  • 93

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