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107 votes
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What kind of protagonist or writing style is Jack Sparrow?

There are several ways to think of Jack because he takes on many, many roles depending on what the movie needs. In general, he's a walking plot device and only very rarely does he develop anything ...
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83 votes
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How to write a story without conflict, like "My Neighbour Totoro"?

There is definitely conflict, in the sense of narrative conflict, in My Neighbor Totoro. Sickness (with possible death) counts, whether it's resolved through any action of any characters or not. ...
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83 votes
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How to detach yourself from a character you're going to kill?

You don't. To put it in more words: the audience has to get attached to make the death relevant. You want her death to be a wake-up call, a touch of realism and a reminder of what war is. Sure, there ...
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80 votes

My friend says that the story of my novel sounds too similar to Harry Potter

Harry Potter wasn't a particularly original story. For people who read a lot of fantasy, many of its themes, settings and characters were deeply familiar. But Rowling did a very good job bringing her ...
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75 votes
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An LGBT main character, but the book isn't about LGBT issues

You can't. I mean, sure, write your book matter of fact. The advice I give out a lot. It works. But it's not just about what you say or don't say in your book, it's about the choices you make. ...
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75 votes

How to tell readers that I know my story is factually incorrect?

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 ...
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66 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? ...
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59 votes

The seven story archetypes. Are they truly all of them?

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 ...
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58 votes

How to write a story without conflict, like "My Neighbour Totoro"?

My Neighbor Totoro makes heavy use of Kishōtenketsu: Kishōtenketsu (起承転結) describes the structure and development of classic Chinese, Korean and Japanese narratives...The first Chinese character ...
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57 votes

Does this scene fail the Bechdel test?

The Bechdel Test has three rules: It has to have at least two [named] women in it Who talk to each other About something besides a man Some people who try to apply it use "man" in the romantic sense,...
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56 votes
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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 ...
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  • 1,561
49 votes

How can I handle a powerful mentor character without killing them off?

Your protagonist is not the only iron the mentor has in the fire In Avatar, the Last Airbender, Uncle Iroh is a powerful and interesting mentor character (with his own complex arc). He has his role ...
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  • 7,891
48 votes

How can I avoid a predictable plot?

Things are not as they seem. Time and again. What you present to the MC is not what it seems to be. It requires your imagination to figure why it isn't. You can conceive of a problem: Then try to ...
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47 votes
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Is there such a thing as too inconvenient?

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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 28k
44 votes
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Killing the protagonist - should it be done?

It's definitely possible to do this without losing the reader. The New Testament is a story where the "protagonist" dies towards the end. I'm sure plenty of readers are quite satisfied with that. ...
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44 votes
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How important is writing for games?

Excellent writing is one of the primary selling points of some games - but it is by no means necessary. It can even be counterproductive in some situations. There has been research into what aspects ...
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  • 2,129
44 votes
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How can I make a character who isn't a jerk seem like one?

Such characters are often found, from the works of Jane Austen to those of Tolstoy. People are perceived as what they appear to others either through actions or words. In Pride and Prejudice, ...
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  • 12.4k
43 votes
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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 ...
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42 votes

How to get readers to care about a dead character?

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 ...
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41 votes
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Choosing between two people in a romance?

There's another character in this equation: the MC. It's why this is called a love triangle rather than a love-decision or a love-fork. Relationships are not like ordering "chicken or fish". The MC ...
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41 votes
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Is it okay to use "It was all just a virtual world / dream" for a plot twist?

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 ...
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  • 1,740
40 votes

Need advice about changing character's gender

Each writer is of one gender, and one sexual orientation, and in order for their stories to reflect real life, they have to learn to write from the POV of other genders and other sexual orientations. ...
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  • 93.2k
39 votes

How do I fill time in my story?

Skipping through time is totally legitimate, and often the best choice. You can just leap there: "At 7:15--her mother's advice regarding the precise definition of "fashionably late"--she knocked on ...
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37 votes
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How to explain the main plot with science based concepts, without the non-sci-fi fans getting bored?

I don't find anything wrong with your explanation per se. You have a range of options as how to best present it, and what works depends on your aims: Don't explain it at all: This is a legitimate ...
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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 ...
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37 votes
Accepted

Is an easily guessed plot twist a good plot twist?

TLDR - Readers guessing your plot twist doesn't have to mean it's ruined, there are ways to make it satisfying linksassin's answer is good, but I'll offer an alternate idea : Anticipated plot twists ...
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36 votes
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What new plots are available to writers?

The only reason we say there are a small number of plots one can list is because they're defined in an extremely vague way. There's still plenty of room for originality; I'll let you decide whether it ...
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  • 9,517
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 ...
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36 votes

I accidentally added a character, and then forgot to write them in for the rest of the series

Reading your description, I came to this conclusion: without changing the plot, Autumn can be replaced by an object, a token of friendship that’s an actual token. You’re right that something needs to ...
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