67 votes

How to perpetuate the plot-driving riddle without frustrating the reader?

The convention is usually that the resolution of the story is the resolution of the mystery, but if you want the mystery to remain unresolved, what is it that gets resolved at the end of the story? ...
ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere's user avatar
56 votes
Accepted

How unadvisable is it to flip the protagonist into a villain?

Sounds like a great idea! Seriously though: the antagonist is the single most important character to any plot. The very best antagonists have motivations and feelings that readers can understand and ...
JBiggs's user avatar
  • 1,581
50 votes

Can a successful book series let the bad guy win?

It is perfectly fine for your story to end with the "bad guy" winning. Consider for example George Orwell's 1984: He loved Big Brother Complete and utter defeat. 1984 is one of last century's ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
45 votes

Plot twist where the antagonist wins

You absolutely can do this, but there are two very important points to consider. What is your purpose in choosing this ending? In what way will this be a satisfying conclusion, from the reader's ...
Standback's user avatar
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43 votes
Accepted

How soon is too soon for a redemption arc?

Monica's excellent answer provides you with the how, but I'd like to touch on when, since you asked "how soon is too soon?" The rough answer is "It's too soon if the villain hasn't earned it." Your ...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar
41 votes
Accepted

Creating an incompetent antagonist

You're concerned about things being "unfulfilling if I simply make the Empire regularly make mind-boggling logical errors". And you're absolutely right. It will be unfulfilling if they make mind-...
R.M.'s user avatar
  • 781
37 votes

What's it called when the bad guy gets eaten?

Just Desserts From TV Tropes: A villain ultimately finds their evil deeds come back to bite them. Literally—they end up getting eaten. This does not include a Heroic Sacrifice. But may be ...
Cyn's user avatar
  • 32.4k
36 votes

How soon is too soon for a redemption arc?

The light is inside him; it just needs a path out. Not a big gaping doorway that opens all at once, but small tendrils. Think "many drips carve a rock", not sudden change. How do you do that? In a ...
Monica Cellio's user avatar
34 votes

How to perpetuate the plot-driving riddle without frustrating the reader?

A story should finish what it starts. You control what, exactly, you choose to start. If you're not going to be finishing a murder mystery with a solution, you need to be careful not to set the story ...
Standback's user avatar
  • 28.3k
33 votes

Is having antagonists who believe in Christianity potentially offensive/harmful?

I think a matter that helps soften the blow for those who might take offense at your story (those who you don't intend to offend), is to have balance. If you depict someone as extremely evil, and ...
WasatchWind's user avatar
32 votes

How to perpetuate the plot-driving riddle without frustrating the reader?

This concerns me: Of course I could now come up with who did it and why If you're writing a mystery, you need to know the answer yourself even if your protagonist does not. Without an overarching ...
Tim B's user avatar
  • 751
27 votes

How unadvisable is it to flip the protagonist into a villain?

It's not unadvisable. There are many well-written characters that go through such a flip. Harvey Dent, the once white knight of Gotham, starts revenge killing everyone who was involved in the death ...
Flater's user avatar
  • 3,137
27 votes
Accepted

Is a lawful good "antagonist" effective?

Antagonists are not necessarily bad guys. They prevent your protagonist from achieving her goals. Free yourself of the labels and write your characters true to themselves. What you seem to have in ...
Rasdashan's user avatar
  • 12.3k
23 votes

What's it called when the bad guy gets eaten?

On TV Tropes this is called Evil Is Not a Toy: Sometimes the Sealed Evil in a Can doesn't escape by itself, nor is it released by an Unwitting Pawn, but is deliberately set free by a villain (or hero)...
Oscar Cunningham's user avatar
22 votes

How can I diversify the personalities of supernatural predators?

Don't ascribe human motivations to non-human creatures I think the core of the problem you are encountering is your decision to ascribe a pathological motivation to your protagonists. If you start ...
EDL's user avatar
  • 12.2k
20 votes

How unadvisable is it to flip the protagonist into a villain?

This is great if done well, but it's often done poorly. In Star Wars Anakin goes from good guy to bad guy without much subtlety or believability. And in Harry Potter, Tom Riddle is always a bad guy, ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k
20 votes

How do you make a super villain's plan smart enough to outwit genuinely intelligent heroes but still have the heroes win?

So first of all, as the writer, you have the advantage of crafting a story in any direction and you should focus on the villain's plan from the end and develop it towards the beginning. Figure out ...
hszmv's user avatar
  • 13.5k
19 votes

Is a lawful good "antagonist" effective?

As others have said, the antagonist doesn't necessarily have to be a bad guy. It's also worth mentioning however, that "bad guys" generally tend to think that what they're doing is good. Consider ...
Hearth's user avatar
  • 288
19 votes

Plot twist where the antagonist wins

Hero-always-wins is a trope I wouldn't call this a plot twist. A twist is a reveal. It changes how events earlier in the story are perceived. This is subverting a trope. The trope is an expected ...
wetcircuit's user avatar
  • 27.2k
18 votes
Accepted

How to make "Joffrey like" characters for a "kick that son of a bitch " moment

Someone who deserves to be smeared over a brick wall doesn't have reedeming features. That's not to say the villain is stupid, or one-dimensional, or his/her only motive is "I like to be eeeeeeevil." ...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar
18 votes
Accepted

Is it uncompelling to continue the story with lower stakes?

In Game of Thrones there were two sets of stakes: the magical Night King, and the mundane power struggle for the Iron Throne. The characters reasonably decided they had to deal with the magical, more ...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar
18 votes

Is it uncompelling to continue the story with lower stakes?

The most important rule is to match the stakes with the promises you've made to the reader You most emphatically do not have to constantly raise the stakes to make a compelling story. As your ...
Arcanist Lupus's user avatar
18 votes

How do you keep an antagonist as morally grey even after they cause serious harm/conflict?

Your question was how an antagonist can be kept "morally grey even after they cause serious harm." If by "morally grey" you mean that it has to be possible for the reader/watcher ...
levininja's user avatar
  • 1,839
16 votes

Creating an incompetent antagonist

Well, remember, many totalitarian regimes are in fact woefully inefficient. Largely because the emperor/fuhrer/first citizen needs to make sure the people beneath him are either not ambitious enough ...
Matthew Dave's user avatar
  • 9,134
15 votes

Can a fight scene, component-wise, be too complex and complicated?

Let's take a look at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in the Lord of the Rings: First, we have the Rohirrim. Among them are Theoden, Éowyn, Éomer and Merry. Then we have Minas Tirith, with its ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
14 votes

Is having antagonists who believe in Christianity potentially offensive/harmful?

...heavily exaggerated religious extremist group/dystopian organization based on a twisted version of Catholic Christianity. … I think using a realistic religion makes the story more raw. You've said ...
wetcircuit's user avatar
  • 27.2k
13 votes
Accepted

How do I plot the defeat of an all-knowing, god-like antagonist?

It sounds like you are doing what I do sometimes - focusing on the finding a weakness in the defences of the antagonist rather than asking where the protagonist is in any way better or different. ...
Matthew Brown aka Lord Matt's user avatar
13 votes

How to perpetuate the plot-driving riddle without frustrating the reader?

This IS possible, although it may not (make that will not) appeal to everyone. Dhalgren (Delany), Wind Up Bird Chronicles (Murakami) and New York Trilogy (Auster) are three very successful and ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k
13 votes

How unadvisable is it to flip the protagonist into a villain?

You readers are invested in your character. There are multiple things they like about him, right? Those things cannot just disappear - that would leave your reader angry, frustrated, and feeling ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
13 votes

How to make the villain's motives understandable if his logic is flawed?

Is the illogic absolutely necessary? Is it imperative to some aspect of your story that your villain's internal voice be self-contradicting and irrational? Many mental illnesses can be represented ...
Henry Taylor's user avatar
  • 10.8k

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