53 votes

Why write a book when there's a movie in my head?

Screenplays are collaborative, whether you like it or not. Actors will say the lines. Directors will alter the tone. The photographer will create their own vision. And the producers will hire other ...
  • 25.1k
33 votes

What is the difference between character-driven stories and plot-driven stories?

Character driven is typically about life changes (or life ending) for a character, basically the character(s) undergo some kind of deep emotional transformation that is life-changing. Becoming a ...
  • 94.1k
32 votes

Stories with multiple possible interpretations: do you plan for it?

There is a joke that we always told each other in my school when we had to analyze texts or poetry that goes something like this: Teacher: What did the author mean when he said that the curtains are ...
  • 5,596
30 votes
Accepted

How to prevent "they're falling in love" trope

You cannot prevent that suspicion altogether; especially because that is your plan. Which means your two characters are heterosexual; so you can't really use homosexuality as a show-stopper. I would ...
  • 94.1k
28 votes
Accepted

Why write a book when there's a movie in my head?

Screenplays are also very difficult to sell, for a first-timer. Books are quite a bit easier. Unlike a screenplay, a book is in its final form, and relatively easy to produce, big publishers can do it ...
  • 94.1k
26 votes
Accepted

Can we "borrow" our answers to populate our own websites?

You have the legal right to reuse elsewhere what you post on Stack Exchange. It's your content. When posting to SE, you give SE a nonexclusive license to use it, and doing so requires that it's your ...
  • 3,764
26 votes

Is it a good idea to make the actions of my antagonist reasonable?

This is a great idea, but keep one important thing in mind. First of all, there's absolutely nothing wrong with making an antagonist sympathetic, reasonable and likable. If anything, it's good writing!...
  • 8,672
25 votes

Is there any way to get around having everyone in the world speak the same language?

There are several ways to have more than one language in your world. Here are some ideas: Your characters might be conversant in more than one language. If your characters are high-born or a ...
23 votes

Can You Hide A Character's Name?

A screenplay is written primarily for the production crew, not for the audience. So you don't have to be afraid of spoiling any plot points by using the real name of the character even though the ...
  • 5,827
23 votes

When do you have to kill a character?

There can be many reasons to kill a character. And there are also reasons not to. It depends on the kind of story you're writing as well as the audience you write it for. Here's 7 reasons to kill, and ...
  • 2,870
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 ...
  • 11.4k
19 votes
Accepted

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

The main problem with trying to estimate something like this is that, even if two writers used the same very detailed plot summary to write a novel, they might produce works that aren't close to being ...
  • 9,517
18 votes
Accepted

What is an arena-driven story?

Arena driven story: A man crashes his airplane in the desert, breaking his leg. His radio doesn't work. If he stays there he will die. He splints his leg, takes all the water he can carry, and tries ...
  • 94.1k
16 votes
Accepted

Can Extensive Outlining Take the Place of the First Draft?

The "first draft" and extensive re-writing you alluded to is often what "pantsers" - people who write by the seat of their pants, without outlines, produce. Those aren't what I would really call a ...
  • 964
16 votes

Is there any way to get around having everyone in the world speak the same language?

You can work around the language barrier the same way we do in real life: have someone act as a translator. There are three ways of introducing such a character: Option 1: The moment the need for a ...
  • 9,746
15 votes

When do I successfully kill off an important secondary main character... in a series of five books?

1) Might one ask why the character destined to die is named... Cancer? I'm just calling him "Charlie" for the rest of this discussion. 2) Does Charlie have any agency, life, personality, or ...
15 votes

Stories with multiple possible interpretations: do you plan for it?

Interpretation arises from uncertainty, so to some degree, you can control whether there will be multiple interpretations or not. Interpretation is what happens when you ask the reader to "fill in the ...
15 votes

How to prevent "they're falling in love" trope

It is possible that this reader is one of thse who likes to pair characters in relationships that need not even be telegraphed. There are several ways to do this. Introduce other potential love ...
  • 12.4k
14 votes
Accepted

How/When to include twists when developing plot.

Try plotting backwards. The writers of House, MD often worked this way. They figured out some esoteric disease or ailment (or perhaps something not so esoteric but easy to confuse with other problems)...
13 votes

How to decide whether a story is worth writing?

To be honest, until a story passes a certain threshold of completeness I don't think it can be determined if it is worthwhile or not. Pretty much every awesome plot can be summarized in a way that ...
  • 1,011
13 votes

Why is character lifetime proportional to character development so often?

Because maintaining suspense over who will live and who will die is only one of a story's many goals. And in most stories, it's not even a very important one. The fact that The Protagonist Survives ...
  • 28k
13 votes
Accepted

How best to recover from catastrophic text loss?

Forget your story for a moment and revel in how this loss makes you feel. A loss of treasured words is a pain which every writer eventually encounters. It is agony, but it is also an opportunity. ...
  • 10.8k
13 votes

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

I see a few options that can work. 1. Specialized information Have the flaws in the plan rely on specialized information/knowledge/skills that are rather rare. Make sure that this specialized ...
13 votes

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

The heroes are persistent. When constructing an evil scheme, no matter how good, you have to stop at some point. Sure, you've compromised or subsumed all world governments, but are you going to get ...
  • 253
12 votes

What is the difference between character-driven stories and plot-driven stories?

Plot-driven vs character-driven is a spectrum rather than a dichotomy. But generally speaking, character-driven means that the plot is primarily guided by characters reacting to other characters, ...
12 votes

How to derive a storyline from a beginning?

Every writer has their own way. In a very general sense you either write as a discovery or write with a plan. It seems like you have a good idea. Write it. Since you haven't discovered your next step ...

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