73

I simply let my character survive a wound that he shouldn't have survived, and then left a note at the bottom about what would have really happened. As a reader, this would break my immersion and ruin the story, everything after that is BS, I know it, the author knows it, and did it anyway. Change the plot point. Change the injury to something crippling ...


59

No, they are not all of them. This is a common game, there are many books claiming there are 3 plots, 7 plots, 12 plots, 21 plots, 23 plots, whatever. You could say there is only one plot: Character Has A Problem. Overcoming the Monster. The monster is the problem. Rags to Riches. Poverty, disrespect, deprivation is the problem. The Quest. Finding the ...


46

The twin tropes you are referring to are Deus ex Machina and Diabolus es Machina. In both cases an event comes out of nowhere, not foreshadowed, to effect a drastic change. Both tropes are frowned upon. For example, Marion Dane Bauer in her book on writing, would say to her writing students "If you end your story by having your main character get hit by a ...


40

You don't necessarily want or need flashbacks and you don't necessarily need the reader to like the character who died in an intimate way where they actually know who that character was. What you want is for the reader to understand what the lack of this character has done to the world and to see other people who for good reason miss that character. An ...


35

Young protagonists are often presented as orphans, because it gives a plausible reason they might be fending largely for themselves. For adults, on the other hand, there are many possible other reasons parents might be offstage --many books about adults simply never mention the parents. However, loss of parents is probably the most devastating, emotionally-...


33

When I was a kid, I was bullied a lot, and I don't usually see accurate depictions of bullying in the media. The bullying I suffered was mostly verbal, but some was physical. What adults don't really understand about physical bullying is that it's more about physical intimidation than actual fist-to-face contact. A lot of the physical bullying composed ...


32

Sometimes writers make mistakes. Sometimes they didn't know something. Sometimes they chose to ignore a fact because it got in the way of their story. This is so common, TV tropes has a whole family of tropes related to the phenomenon. Of particular interest to you would be Artistic License - Medicine with all its subtropes, and Critical Research Failure. ...


32

The archetypes are a descriptive framework created by scholars in order to describe stories. Someone had a theory, says every story fits into one of those archetypes. Any story you give them, they will fit it into one of those archetypes, even if it squeaks a little. For my part, there are stories I struggle to fit into this framework. The Jungle Book, for ...


31

@Amadeus describes an "act of patience" as "not doing". I would argue that an "act of patience" can also be about keeping on doing, day after day, something that is very hard to do - it is about perseverance. As an example, take The Wild Swans, or any work derived from that fairy tale. The main character must knit shirts of stinging nettle for her bewitched ...


28

(A) In a humourous short story about Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, Bertie is talking about a situation involving two strangers and Jeeves suggests referring to them as A & B. When another stranger enters that situation, Jeeves suggests "We will call him C, sir" and Bertie says, "Caesar is a good name". Bertie can write this because he's relaying a story ...


23

That's totally nonsense. Stupid gender category thinking. Just ignore statements like this one. The truth is that many women do not think (because of this nonsense) that men can write fiction for women (probably because they think men do not understand women). Therefore male writers use a female pseudonym if they want to sell romances and stuff where the ...


22

Many authors do include that kind of information outside of the story itself. Typically it goes in a foreword or afterword, which are essays the author finds useful to include with the story that can contain almost anything, including the acknowledgements section (usually separate). These are directed to the reader, often in a conversational tone. I imagine ...


20

Throughout your book, you, the author, are continually making promises to the reader about the ending of your book, most notably (a) in your choice of genre, (b) at the beginning of your book, and (c) what happens close to the end. You don't have to keep all those promises, but if you want happy readers, you had better know what promises you are making and ...


19

Realism means variety, because real life isn't all one thing To some degree, you've answered your own question: I want there still to be hope in the story after these two events happen If a little kid's parents die, show him sometimes forgetting to mourn and having fun instead. If petty nobles end up ruling their fiefs unsupervised, show some of them ...


18

There are two questions hiding in your question, 1. Can the POV character not be the character who's most active? Consider Sherlock Holmes as an example. Watson is the POV character, the story is told in first person by Watson, it's Watson's opinions and emotions we share. But Watson is passive. It's Holmes who is active, it's Holmes who is interesting, it'...


17

Your readers only want to read a scene if it moves the plot forward, adds to a character's experience or inner life, or is just plain entertaining. Realism doesn't mean a character gets up to use the bathroom just because nature came calling. It means that sometimes in the middle of a 3-hour meeting with no breaks, the anxiety that comes from needing to ...


17

I personally think "dead parents" as an explanation for why a character might act outside of the "norm" is just lazy writing. People do insane things in life with both parents in tact and likewise, people lose both parents and live completely normal, healthy lives. Explore your characters deeper. Go deeper. Make more sense of their world. "Dead parents" ...


16

I don't understand this fear of using certain kinds of words. Yes, you can use contractions. Yes, you can use adverbs. Yes, you can use "bookisms" (alternatives for said which give additional information, like hissed, muttered, shouted). I'll even allow the occasional split infinitive if the circumlocution to avoid it sounds ridiculous. Bookisms and adverbs ...


16

Greed can be an inciting event. People go looking for treasure, to escape poverty. Knowledge can be an inciting event. Suppose the MC knows she and her village are powerless to confront an evil overlord, but in having these dreams of a trapped goddess she believes are real visions, the MC realizes if she can save the goddess and unleash her power, the ...


16

"I simply let my character survive a wound that he shouldn't have survived" Real people do this all the time, one of my favourites was a guy in Alaska who accidentally severed his own jugular vein with a chainsaw and then proceeded to walk 20 odd miles to the nearest town for help. He should have been unconscious almost instantly and died a few moments ...


16

The problem with an act of patience is that it is just waiting for something else to happen. One way I can think of to make that "exciting" is by making the wait a progression, so incrementally it is happening and the patient character is seeing things happen, and hoping they mean what she thinks they mean, and her imagination is fired up by these ...


15

This is written for a general audience. Some knowledge the askee demonstrated a fundamental understanding of will be re-explained for sake of novice writers. You ask what level of telling is acceptable to reveal character motive, and what specific rules might exist for making such a decision. The high level answer is that a certain amount of telling is ...


15

This is not only done, but is a staple of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire - all books' prologues and epilogues have a one-time POV character that dies by the end of it. So yeah, it's perfectly acceptable.


14

Most men's hearts are brave in the moment in the firefight. It's the minutes and hours waiting,that's when fear creeps in. This is the great thing about static scenes. This is where the characters wait for the next thing to happen, but often these moments can be more trying than the action. The conflict here is often internal. Show the characters struggling ...


14

You don't need to show the characters thoughts to know what they are thinking. Well written body language should be enough. Instead of portraying standard card playing behavior, give your characters individual tells and gestures. Player A sips water instead of liquor. Player B twists his wedding band, it's missing a stone. Player C keeps staring at ...


14

It is not necessary to run different character arcs chronologically synchronized. However, it is important not to create a false impression that these arcs are synchronized. For example in "A Song of Ice and Fire" (which I refer to quite often) first 3 books George Martin tried to run all chapters chronologically. Next book was split into two ("A Feast for ...


14

A really good example of this is The Martian, where the key event for Watney being stranded on Mars is a violent storm which damages equipment, injures Watney and threatens the lander. Andy Weir was perfectly aware that Mars does not in fact have winds which would match the novel's events - whilst winds on Mars can be extremely fast, the thin atmosphere ...


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