Hot answers tagged

41

To expand on what @Mary said, the reason people don't like the "it was all a dream" twist is that it cheapens what came before. Imagine if you, the reader, have gone through all emotion of watching a protagonist lose their best friend, suffer through the grief and self-doubt that results from that loss, overcome it, and arise triumphant to beat the ...


25

You need to think about your protagonists weaknesses – now! If your protagonist is simply above and beyond everything and everybody else it will get really, really boring. Your character needs some form of development, some things to strive for. Dave has to be better in something, and that something is not necessarily bashing monster's heads in. Think ...


18

Hot Potato: Good luck with that one, you'll need it. People don't like feeling that they're being tricked, and this plot twist lends itself to tricks. BUT if you do it right, people will nod their heads and say, "Ah! Of course! I should have seen it all along." In The Matrix, what is and isn't real are fundamental questions to the story. How you ...


14

Most of the time, it's important that the outcome — good or bad — follow from the main character's actions. If the outcome is determined by chance or randomness or coincidence, it's less likely to feel satisfying. On the other hand, a certain amount of coincidence is fine if it complicates the main character's problems. But even ...


13

I wouldn't just use fire and ice. The classic Four Elements (earth, air, fire, water) have been used for mythological and magical structures for many stories. Look at the Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra cartoon series just for starters. Having mages whose powers fall into one of those four categories (or expand them to metal, electricity, ...


13

On the question of "Why IWAJAD is a bad plot twist anyway?" I agree with most of what's been said (cheapens the impact of the events that occurred in the dream). @Llewellyn's question gets right at the issue - if the bulk of the story is the dream, then the protagonist wakes up in the last chapter and realizes the dream has given him what he needs ...


12

I had a poetry teacher who talked about "tired language," referring to clichés like this. Take your original metaphor apart and break it down to the real, concrete, non-representative ideas. Are Eri and Mom so far apart that not one single thought is shared between them? Are they speaking as though they are watching two different TV shows, or experienced ...


12

Let Dave save Bob's life. Bob is strong against super evil but he is just a guy. He lacks Dave;s experience, and inner strength. He also is not as strong at solving mundane problems. Have human enemies, followers of the super evil. Let those be a problem for Bob who's magic does nothing on them. Then let Dave step in with his sword skills and save the day. ...


11

Complete chance? Yes. That's a form of deus ex machina, where something outside the hero/ine's actions swoops in at the end to save the day. If something arbitrary outside the plot advances it without the hero's actions, that's poor storytelling. So how do you fix that? You already did: Well actually with that one the reasons the Chart of Sinners is ...


11

This is a very interesting question, and by no means trivial. The IWAJAD device has been used many times in literature but often ineffectively. The trick is to make it work. In John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" and in H. P. Lovecraft's "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" we are told from the beginning that the story is a dream. Yet at ...


10

See if you can add a twist. One time Harlan Ellison wrote: She looked like a million bucks. Realizing what a horrible cliche that was, he changed it: She looked like a million bucks, tax free. For a lame example (that twists the cliche by adding another one): It sometimes felt as if we spoke different languages. British English and American ...


10

Here are a few simple solutions which spring to mind: 1) Have Bob's powers develop over the course of the game This is a very common mechanic in RPGs as it allows the player to learn a few features at a time, and offers rewards for hitting milestones in the game. You already mention Bob earning experience points, so your game does not seem too different to ...


10

Your story sounds interesting. But even the best ideas can be awful when written up and some of the simplest, done-to-death, plots can be amazing. It's all in what you do with it. If a book sells well enough to make the author and publisher money, then there is something compelling about it. It might not be "good" in a literary sense. But the author ...


9

The great thing about 'suddenly' is that it appears at the start of the sentence, so itself appears suddenly to the reader, but you can replace it easily with something stronger... Start a sentence with a jarring word or image instead of a 'suddenly'. Like one, or even all of the below examples: Blood splattered his hands. Glass shattered around him. ...


9

If you think of your book as a "serious" historical fiction, then your concerns are well-founded. But if you are writing "historical fantasy", you are free to do anything you want, as long as the book is good. You can't make your book serious in the sense of "historically accurate", but I see no problem having it serious as "deep and thought provoking".


7

You're right that it's a cliche and they don't "need to". it is quite silly and one would expect it only from mediocre or lazy writters I agree. See TV Tropes: Birthmark of Destiny See also scars, beards and hairstyles. Villains also sometimes come with convenient labels, e.g. The Omen's Damien: See TV Tropes: Mark of the Beast. Frodo is one of the ...


7

55K words is a novella; your teacher is wrong there. 80K to 85K is a good book length. If your story will require two books (or however many), finish them all before shopping the first one to an agent. Explain in the cover letter that it's a completed series. Agents may balk at an open-ended cliffhanger from a novice, but if you say that the two/three/etc. ...


7

I agree with @S.Mitchell about chance being a major part of authorship in writing. It's good things can happen by chance. If it didn't happen at all, then what kind of writing would that be? To make it more believable, you need to cleverly introduce the plot point. You state the "Chart of Sinners" is found in the middle of the road. Sure, this could happen ...


7

At extremes: yes, relying on "chance" as a plot device can be very unsatisfying. The reader knows that "chance" isn't really a matter of luck; instead, it's the author manipulating events. The reader also knows they need to suspend disbelief -- so some level of luck and happenstance and implausibility is to be expected. But too much of it, or having chance ...


7

A good way to avoid cliche in romance is to choose unusual characters as participants in the romance. The love poetry shared between a pair of nuclear physicists could be very romantic without being at all cliche. Escaped prisoners on the run from the Law might fall in love during a high tension cat-and-mouse pursuit, leading to frenzied encounters ...


7

It's ok to use it if the dream is a very short scene, or if it takes place in the opening of the story. With short scenes, we have a very dreamlike duration, meaning IWAJAD doesn't delete or invalidate very much. It was only just a short scene after all. At the opening of a story, the scene can be longer. We're being introduced to one or more characters, and ...


6

Chance is important and storytellers rely on it. However, too much chance and the audience just doesn't believe it. If it seems too coincidental, it probably is. As a reader I must believe that something is possible or even probable. Otherwise, there is a suspension of disbelief. Sometimes the idea of fate is used to mitigate straight chance -- you are the ...


6

It will be hard to make this work unless you reverse the order you introduce your characters. People always compare the new to the known. If Dave is first established as the Kingdom's greatest swordsman, and then Bob defeats him, Bob looks amazing. If Bob is first established as invincible, and then he defeats Dave, everyone yawns. One way of solving ...


5

Depending on the tone of your book, you can make that work for you by making subsequent text sarcastic, funny, meta, or the intro to a flashback. I had destroyed the earth. Okay, it was just a bit of dirt in a test tube. And I didn't really destroy it; I just washed it down the drain. Fine, I was cleaning up after my lab partner. Yes, she ditched me. ...


5

Can an overdone theme still work? Absolutely You have the right idea. You generally want to stay away from overdone themes, because they are, well, overdone. But if you do write a novel with an overdone theme, you should approach it from an unexplored angle. Make sure your novel is a fresh look at a familiar topic, and you will be just fine.


5

Are you kidding me? Things are never just happening by chance. Not in the real world. What we commonly refer to as coincidence, is a result of a sequence of events of which we are either not aware, or too lazy to think hard enough to figure out. As the owner of your world, you have the luxury of knowing everything you wish to know, simply because you ...


5

To have everything happen by compete luck or chance would be a bit off putting for the skeptical. Instead of assassins happen to randomly find the list, maybe they were tailing the list while it was in transit and due to the said accident, happened to be laying in the road. Things need to happen for a reason. Everything has a reason behind it, even if ...


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