New answers tagged

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Picture the following situation: a passenger aircraft nearly 300 people on board suffers a catastrophic failure, making the plane almost unflyable. The flight crew are struggling to maintain control, to somehow get the plane on the ground while also knowing that they have to keep it away from populated areas because if it does go down, if they lose their ...


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The most fundamental building block of a novel is the scene. A scene either reveals part of the plot or something about the characters; after reading the scene's last sentence, the story has 'advanced' by some measure. Scenes come in two varieties; 'action' and 'reaction'. As their names suggest, action scenes set up action, and in reaction scenes the ...


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Here, I wrote this into an answer because what I want to show cannot be written as a comment. When I first read your post, it had not yet been formatted by Galastel. That's what I was referring to in my first comment. Here, I reproduced it the way I read it: Without the edit: Breathe— Breathebreathebreathebreathebreathe FUCK! What—exhale— too bright, ...


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I've seen many novels that don't have a Table of Contents. In a non-fiction book, it makes a lot of sense to have a TOC. Someone might want to skip to the part that is of interest to him right now. If, say, I was searching for information about the Battle of Gettysburg, I might open a book called "History of the Civil War" and look for a chapter whose title ...


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It's absolutely fine to state the moral explicitly, as in your examples. It's also absolutely fine not to. If you DON'T spell it out, many readers won't 'get it'. Think of some of the earliest 'short stories', the parables found in the Bible and similar books of other religions. What message would you take from 'The Prodigal Son' if the moral wasn't ...


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If you do this, lean into it Skipping a scene in an otherwise continuous story will always be jarring. The last thing readers want to feel is "this doesn't make any sense". You want your story to be believable and for readers to follow the action. If you want to use this device only occasional within your work, Bradc's advice to "hang a lantern on it" is ...


1

Some people are afraid of having the hero or protagonist rescue their love interest because it reinforces the old stereotype of a woman needed to be rescued by a man. I may point out that there is a lot of truth in the old stereotype of a woman needing to be rescued by a man. Countless millions of men, women, and children have been in danger in history and ...


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As it stands now, your question seems to boil down to: how can I write a story that no one will criticize? The answer to that is, don't publish it. If you publish it, with any degree of success, someone will criticize it. The more successful you are, the more people will criticize it and the more vicious their criticism will be. It is unfortunately true ...


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In addition to the excellent answers here already, this might be an opportunity for you to do some further reading, to examine in detail how some of the most popular high-quality novels pursue a strong romance arc. You can start with an internet search for "romance in [genre]", using your own favourite genre. I tried this for "romance in science fiction" ...


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Here's an easy test: if for all intents and purposes the woman in your story could be replaced with a golden chalice, you're in trouble. Someone stole the guy's chalice, he wants to get it back. Someone crashed the guy's chalice, he wants revenge. Worst offenders are the "if you save the princess, you can marry her" stories - there the woman is literally a ...


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I think your protagonist and antagonist have a complex and very interesting relationship; could you have the original antagonist confront the protagonist at the end and participate in her redemption? Teaming up to defeat the EVIL ORGANIZATION could be a part of the motivation, but the obsession and history between those two is enough to build a captivating ...


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A love interest is not the only reason to risk life and limb. IRL there are many stories of people risking life and limb to save children, sometimes losing their life. In psychology there is a real phenomenon, primarily involving young adults in their teens or twenties, of taking insane risks to save a child they don't even know. Daniel Goleman documents ...


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The kinds of criticisms you are encountering are not aimed against the concept of the hero having a love interest. They are aimed against female characters that that exist only as a motivation for the hero, and that are, as a consequence, generic, cliched, stereotyped, unrealistic, and unsatisfying as characters, particularly for female readers. At one time ...


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The way I see it: It's not about whether the the protagonist(s) are happy or unhappy at the end; it's about whether they've succeeded or failed. Most stories involve the protagonist(s) having difficulties to overcome, problems to solve, situations to deal with, goals to be achieved (whether those are becoming king, becoming wiser and more mature, staying ...


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A happy ending is one in which the world is configured in accordance with the values of the protagonist (and their companions and other sympathetic characters). The more the state of the world matches the values of the protagonist (etc.), the happier the ending. Maybe the ending is also happier the greater the value difference between initial and final ...


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I think you need to make a distinction between horror, which runs largely on anticipation (like every other genre) and splatter porn (which relies on the perverse titillation that some people feel when regarding scenes of gore, torture, etc.). If you are writing splatter porn, you probably can't go too far, but the audience is (I hope to God) small. If ...


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The protagonist(s) win/s, the antagonist(s) is/are defeated (even temporarily), and the reader can imagine the protagonists continuing on to other adventures, or with their lives, in some positive way. I would argue that Endgame is a mixed ending, not a happy one, specifically because not all the protagonists win and get to continue on (Tony, Natasha, ...


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The pragmatic "Hollywood" answer is a film has a happy ending if it leaves room for a sequel. Although Tony Stark dies, they did have sequels with him, and in this particular case, another Iron Man could arise (just like when 007 gets tired), or a prequel, etc. I get that "satisfied" is a squishy term, but probably because it can depend on the genre. A ...


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A happy ending is about the emotional response the work as a whole evokes in the reader (or viewer). A sad ending or any other type would be the same. It's the state you've reduced the audience to at the end. There are no quantitative measures because no one's journey involves ticking boxes. Every story, no matter how simplified, will have good and bad ...


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I'm by no means an expert, so take this answer as opinion. But here's my take all the same. The way I view this is: what does the ending achieve? If in the case of Cinderella she marries the prince, has the life she deserves (since she was the 'true heiress' of her father's land and titles), but she's a lesbian? This isn't a happy ending, but merely not a ...


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Many stories have characters who performs offscreen heroics or have their own adventures (as TVTropes calls it, The Greatest Story Never Told). Example off the top of my head is Glynn Stewart's ONSET series: one of the good guys is a demon named Ix. At some point between books he went off and did something that allowed him to overcome the instinctual need to ...


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Something that has worked for me is simply getting started. Doesn’t matter how bad or good. Get started. Once I start, I worry about what’s next. Sometimes I do this in real life. Sometimes it’s best to not worry. So, what I do after that is a labyrinth without end, that is to say that I read voraciously things that are not of concern to the writing. That ...


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If you like process and planning, The Story Grid is really good. You start out with an overview of your story on a foolscap sheet and, from there, make a detailed outline scene by scene analysing the stakes for each scene, giving it a rating in terms of its severity, and whether it shifts from positive to negative, negative to positive and so on. It enables ...


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Internal dialogue would be a good way to show how A had his change of heart. Putting the sequence of thoughts that leads up to his decision down on paper is a great way to convey it to the reader. Show A's dilemma, how the revelation of B's true motives affect him and causes his views to shift. It will allow you to weave the cognitive dissonance in the ...


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I am a big fan of the four-stage thought process. In my writing group, we call it the story cycle. We start with an event (an inciting incident for the current moment) Emotion (reaction) Reasoning (logic and "in-character" attitudes) Anticipation (expectation of good or bad outcomes) Action With these four steps, you can steer a character through the ...


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There is a scene in Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver which, I believe, holds the answer to your question: I didn't mean to say no to him that day. I had never said no to him before, because I knew if we did he would hurt us, and he hurt us anyway already, and so I knew he would hurt us even worse if we said no. I would not have even thought of saying no to ...


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"Change of heart" may, or may not be real change of heart. There may be different scenarios to explain your events. Justice is above all. Your character "A" may be self-centered, but he has a strong sense of duty. After listening to "B", he realizes that the only justified course of action would be to offer "B" some aid. Even villains have heart. B's story ...


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You could deliberately jump two page numbers in the numberings of the book. You noticed yourself smart readers are going to know. So embrace it. Maybe print a little gliph or 242… then next page is …245. And then literally start and stop mid-sentence. It's going to be jarring but make it obvious that as a plot device, the reader has to mentally assume what ...


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Time is an illusion in storytelling--one that you, the author, create. You can skip millenia just by saying that they passed, and you can spend as many pages as you wish to describe a single moment, frozen in (in-universe) time. Furthermore, you can spread your material to best serve the pacing of your story: for example, consider an action scene that ...


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It's certainly possible, but it's not always easy to do in a way that doesn't feel forced. If you look at it from the perspective that "evil" is more of an attitude than a specific act you can show that the character might possess that attitude in various ways: Their reactions Have something happen that they react to in a way that an "evil" character would ...


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In your section (5), when A feels sympathy, it isn't enough to feel sympathy. You have to give A some reason to reject their previous life. Personally, I'd revise this: A is too much in charge. For example, instead of A confronting B, maybe A tries to thwart B, and then B confronts A, and interrogates A. In that interrogation we get both A's backstory (why ...


1

I would say the "Black Moment" is anywhere from the 50% to 75% mark in the story. I would prefer "Darkest Hour", and instead of "Point of Death" the "Last Chance". The Darkest Hour is when the MC (main character, main crew) stops believing the outcome they want is possible. If it is a romance, the partner they've been pursuing has left, or rejected them for ...


6

If I understand you correctly you are in A's POV when they have their change of heart, this means you can you can show what's leading them to having this change and make the change consistent with them: B's words struck me like a freight train hitting a hay bale. I'd started this interrogation so certain of my position. B was the enemy, vile and ...


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As I understand, you decisively want to refuse giving an explanation, right? You could add "unnecessary" details to imply a story that has the readers imagination going wild for you. Axel and Susan may have managed to escape the avalanche, but now the only thing they could do was wait for their slow decay in the premature coffin that was this cabin. ...


3

Always try, at least for yourself, to give motivations to any character for behaving a certain way. Why is A the way he is? Should the reader know this? Here are some ideas for making a change, such as the one you describe, 'realistic'. From what you write, it seems to me that A is a person in power; like a cop, agent of some sort. 1: Before the ...


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Seeing how this is an old but unanswered question, let me throw this into the mix: According to Blake Snyders Save the Cat the "All is Lost" moment is the reversal of the midpoint, a false defeat that feels like a total one. Spontaneous example I can think of is in the Disney Movie Moana, when Mauis hook breaks and they think they have no way to defeat the ...


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Hang a lantern on it. If you're truly interested in not answering these questions, then I think your only remaining choice is to hang a lantern on it: To hang a lantern (or “hang a lamp”) is to call attention to an inconsistency in the story by having a character notice the inconsistency. It’s the writer’s way of telling the reader “I did this on purpose;...


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In 1, maybe Charlie says: "How did you find me!" I didn't give you any clues!" And Bob says: "You thought you didn't. With enough internet skill, you can track any post to it's sender." In 2, maybe Mary could be described with wild hair, torn clothing, and bleeding from her ankles and wrists, indicating she had to struggle really hard to get out of the ...


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These are scene jumps that serve the plot It's unclear what you mean by this; you can make a scene jump without leaving obvious questions unresolved. If you never resolve them, readers are going to see them as flaws. As you say, hiding things based on POV can absolutely work: Charlie has no idea how Bob found his home. From his perspective, shock and ...


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Yes, you can introduce a villain before a crime is committed. You don't need to use any clichés or tropes. The essence of villainy is, in general, selfishness to the point of not caring about the welfare, life, or happiness of other people. Over-The-Top villains may want to harm people for fun of it, be sadistic or enjoy the pain of other people, but that ...


0

I understand your question as asking: is it possible for the reader to know that a certain character is evil, from that character's introduction, and before that character actually commits any evil acts? This precludes having the character commit some crime that is unrelated to the main action, so that we recognise their evil. It also means it is irrelevant ...


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Happens all the time. It's a staple in many a superhero movie where the villain is typically motivated by pure means until he or she gets their powers. Doctor Octopus and Green Goblin both got scenes with Peter Parker where they were fatherly to him before they started their villainy. In the comics, Doctor Kurt Connors is a traditional ally of Peter ...


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Another option would be to let your characters talk about the actions in the missing time without letting the reader know. You will never believe how I got out of there! and then end of story or chapter. No explanation for the reader. I like that this is quite immersive. If you see Mary running out of a building and sceaming for help you don't think "...


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I read your question before your examples were edited out, and would like to comment on them a bit, but I won't. It wouldn't be fair to the question as it is now. So, to address your current question of 'is using elaborate metaphors a bad thing' my answer is: No, not inherently. BUT you have to do it carefully to pull it off. So how do you know if you're ...


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As long as you don't keep people hanging too long and you do the skip at an appropriate time, it can work. Bob meets Charlie on a chatroom. They talk for a while, then Charlie has to go to bed so he can get to work in the morning. Just as he is leaving, for work, he hears a knock at the door. It's Bob. "Hey Charlie. Sorry for just stopping by, but I ...


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Skipping scenes is usually quite welcome in a novel. Sometimes you don't want to see every step. But the amount of skipping you propose is pretty jarring. You will break your readers out of their immersion in your world if you do something like that. Especially if you do it over and over. The way to make it work is just as you say, to fool the reader ...


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How did Jack Sparrow escape that island he got stranded on? "Sea turtles". He escaped somehow, and he isn't going to tell us how. In fact, not telling us adds to his mystique. And he knows it, which is why he isn't telling us. Of course, there's an issue of POV here. Jack Sparrow isn't the POV character, so he can keep secrets. A POV character doesn't have ...


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Most of your metaphors do seem a bit confusing. Your first example compares parallel rays of sunlight to entrails, but entrails aren't parallel. Your second example compares newly formed clouds to transparent glass, but even the wispiest of clouds are far from transparent, they are opaque at best. Your third example "exhibitionist, twilight colors" ...


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