Hot answers tagged

76

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 is no guarantee that your audience will like the same characters that you like. But if you realize that you've grown fond of that female soldier, if you find ...


75

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. When we've talked about diversity and racism in books we talked about how making a choice to avoid such things makes a statement. Choosing to include real-world ...


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 ...


43

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 villain has to walk all the way back through the brainwashing/teaching/propaganda etc. which got the person to the dark place s/he began the story. The villain ...


43

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 perspective? In your question, you're describing a particular sequence of events as being an unexpected one. That's great, but what makes story isn't just the ...


38

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 subverted with a minor character being killed and eaten in obvious foreshadowing of what is going to happen to one of the bads at some point. While Mooks ...


37

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 choice, especially if you're sticking close to the POV of the humans, and they (we) never figure it out. Give it a brief, non technical explanation: ("Great ...


37

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 can work if they're executed well Take the famous Star Wars example. The twist that Darth Vader is Luke's father isn't a twist for present day first-time ...


35

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 lot of fiction that I've read (and I suspect there's psychology behind this, but I don't know), the first cracks come with perceived inconsistency and self-...


33

One way to keep it from taking over your story is to make it unexceptional. Quite literally. Kem is nonbinary. If Kem, other characters, and the narrator don't make a big deal out of that, don't either hide it or gawk at it, and just go about their lives, you'll convey the message that this is normal in Kem's world. That part about not hiding it is ...


32

Chekhov's Gun takes many forms... I use Chekhov's Gun CONSTANTLY in my writing too. It has sort of gotten to a point of being excessive, actually. That said, I've learned quite quickly that Chekhov's Gun doesn't need to be fired inherently. Using the classic parable's example: the gun on the mantel can be "fired" in multiple ways. It could be actually ...


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 ...


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 ...


26

All writing has political elements to it, whether you like it or not. Your question is a great demonstration of this. Some people consider LGBTQ people to inherently be (a) extremely rare, and (b) uniquely strange, fundamentally unlike cisgender, heterosexual people. Other people consider LGBTQ people to be a common, notable, substantial portion of the ...


25

It depends on your target audience. If you are writing for adults, go with the flow and let terrible things happen as long as they make sense in your paradigm. If you are writing for young adults, you might want to pull things back a trifle. My current work is very dark and violent, but I leaven it with humor on occasion. One thing you should do if you ...


24

On TV Tropes this is called Evil Is Not a Toy: Sometimes the Sealed Evil in a Can doesn't escape by itself, nor is it released by an Unwitting Pawn, but is deliberately set free by a villain (or hero). Let's call him Bob. Bob usually thinks he can control the sealed evil, or bargain with it, expecting to trade on a certain level of gratitude on its part ...


23

There are certain things that are traditionally kept in basements: main breaker panels, furnace, hot water tank etc. Mention of one of those can imply the basement. If the lights flicker, the MC can write a note to the other asking about the fuse box and be told that he’ll take care of it later. Depending on the age and style of the house in question, ...


23

The norm is the average range. None of your examples are outside the norm, meaning they're all things people wouldn't think were unusual. You seem to be asking "do I have to write characters who are in the center of the average range?" The answer to that is "no." All of your examples are about age and age has never been a very exciting deviation, ...


22

Are these many layers of misery inflicted upon innocents too much for a reader to handle? You must be careful here: the way you phrase that statement, you appear to be laying the blame on the reader - "the story is good, but the reader is too weak for it". Consider instead the alternative approach: the reader is good, but you have not given him enough ...


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 ...


21

I would go with characters have dead siblings; but that happens off-screen. Showing it on-screen, and in-period-realistic, might be off-putting itself. Everything you are talking about is a statistical distribution; averages, a bell-curve of sorts. Nothing says your character have to reside in the center of it. So child-deaths can happen primarily to ...


20

The main distinction to be made here is between character-driven stories and plot-driven stories. Character-driven stories, as you can imagine, focus mainly on the characters, their struggles, their growth and their relationships. The central questions of these stories could be, What will Bob do in this situation? Will his relationship with Alice survive? ...


20

I'm going with a frame challenge. Not all reveals are a "twist" A twist is new information that changes the meaning of earlier events. This is done by writing 2 plots with the same events. The MC believes the 1st plot until the twist when the 2nd plot is revealed as the true version of events. Readers should be able to re-read the story knowing the twist, ...


19

Hero 1 goes through the gauntlet to become a hero, and it's left him bitter. He's angry at how unfair it was. How many good men died just to prove purity (or whatever). He is a hero, but he's broken. Hero 2 goes through the gauntlet to follow in his idol's footsteps: Hero 1. He gets through the gauntlet because he keeps reminding himself about Hero 1. He's ...


19

Hero-always-wins is a trope I wouldn't call this a plot twist. A twist is a reveal. It changes how events earlier in the story are perceived. This is subverting a trope. The trope is an expected cliché: "the hero always wins", but then you break or subvert expectations. (See 2016 for middle-aged men having a cosmic meltdown because their Star Wars ...


19

Don't detach yourself emotionally from the character. Rather, experience the character's death as a major part of their arc. This is not a real person who is gone once dead; this is a fictional character, and their entire arc is what makes them who they are. Make the specifics of the death contribute towards making the character even greater, and love the ...


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 ...


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