Hot answers tagged

79

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 own vision to it. Your story doesn't sound --to me --at all like Harry Potter. But like most fantasy stories, including Harry Potter, it has some familiar ...


49

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 of providing advice for Toph, and maybe a little for Aang - but he's primarily the mentor for the show's first antagonist. He's interested in seeing the Avatar ...


41

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 watching a protagonist lose their best friend, suffer through the grief and self-doubt that results from that loss, overcome it, and arise triumphant to beat the ...


35

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 be done. Having a character present in the middle of the action but not doing anything or even being mentioned is confusing for the audience. And having a ...


34

Yes, absolutely. Protagonists aren't perfect. In many ways, protagonists making mistakes helps to humanize them. Of course, it seems wrong to write a scene where your hero, the good guy of the story, accidentally gets somebody killed or completely screws things up for other characters - after all, won't that make them unlikable? Doesn't everybody hate that ...


32

Three ideas that may serve to make your world a bit harsher: Your protagonist and their mentor aren't always on the same side Maybe the mentor's been given incomplete information. Maybe there's a genuine difference of opinions regarding how to handle a morally grey situation. Maybe whatever's going on touches on a past trauma of theirs that they are really ...


30

Your friend is wrong. That's not nearly enough like Harry Potter to be a problem. My guess is that your friend has read Harry Potter but not any other urban fantasy; many, many urban fantasy stories start out with an old enemy resurfacing; a protagonist who didn't know about the magical world suddenly becoming aware of it; said protagonist ending up being &...


24

Is it possible that the first 14 chapters are all backstory, and that you should just start your book with Chapter 15? One of the things it took me years to learn as a writer is that not all the writing you do needs to end up on the final page. There are many things you should know as the author that you don't need to explicitly tell the audience. Books work ...


18

Hot Potato: Good luck with that one, you'll need it. People don't like feeling that they're being tricked, and this plot twist lends itself to tricks. BUT if you do it right, people will nod their heads and say, "Ah! Of course! I should have seen it all along." In The Matrix, what is and isn't real are fundamental questions to the story. How you ...


17

I think the fact that you yourself forgot about her is indeed a sign that she's not really adding anything to your story. Personally, I believe in keeping characters to the minimum you actually need, because I think you end up with a stronger story, while making fewer demands on the reader. If you can't keep track of this character, or care about her, ...


16

Yes this is completely normal. You're making a pretty big decision for the rest of your story, and you're probably just second guessing yourself, trying to figure out how to spin it after the big fight scene. Most of the time, the fight scene itself isn't actually all that important, but after all the I-shoot-you-and-you-shoot-me-and-I-shoot-you-back-etc-etc-...


16

I'm sure that Todd J. Greenwald's friends might have told him that his idea for what later became the Disney Channel TV series Wizards of Waverly Place was too similar to Harry Potter, but apparently it was different enough to produce four seasons of episodes without being shut down for plagiarism. And the friends of the creators of the Upside-Down Magic ...


14

It's all been done before: I am not joking when I say I think I've answered this question before, but I can't seem to find the reference. The fact is, every possible story has been done before - at least twice. The ancients already had most of the plot lines in broad terms while still in the BC's. I suspect if the library of Alexandria hadn't burned, even ...


13

On the question of "Why IWAJAD is a bad plot twist anyway?" I agree with most of what's been said (cheapens the impact of the events that occurred in the dream). @Llewellyn's question gets right at the issue - if the bulk of the story is the dream, then the protagonist wakes up in the last chapter and realizes the dream has given him what he needs ...


13

What does he do? Does he get up to refill the pitcher when he realizes they are out of water? Does he cook dinner without being asked -- or only after being nagged? Does he clean up the table despite the order of the papers on it being important? Does he give the main character penetrating looks after actions? If he neither talks nor acts, he's a non-...


13

Yes, it is indeed possible, especially because it is your own creation. Whatever you do to your characters, and whether you decree it canon or not, is up to you as an author. Such a non-canon story would count as a "side story" or some sort of bonus. If someone else wrote that non-canon piece, people would call it "fanfiction." You're ...


12

Does it serve the story? Then, yes. Putting that particular mistake in will alter who your target audience is, though. Some people will find it too brutal; some people will find the lack of such things means that the stakes are too low. Also, how you treat it will affect how your audience reacts to your character. How serious the mistake is, whether it ...


11

This is a very interesting question, and by no means trivial. The IWAJAD device has been used many times in literature but often ineffectively. The trick is to make it work. In John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" and in H. P. Lovecraft's "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" we are told from the beginning that the story is a dream. Yet at ...


11

In short: Everything you just listed is completely fine. There's nothing wrong with taking a specific plot point in a book and then having your own unique spin on it. Nobody can plagiarize you for having a similar plot in the story. If this were the case, most fantasy-based or sci-fi genre boarding schools could be copyrighted by J.K Rowling, places on ...


11

With a Twist: There's a whole vein of books and movies that are like this, in the thriller category. The MC is usually portrayed as a kind of mastermind, but sometimes the concealment is enough. While books can do this, I think of Lucky Number Slevin, Red Sparrow, and What Lies Beneath as movies where the end is a twist plot that flips the whole story on its ...


10

Politics The countries of the world is scared of Mentor. He has to step very lightly to avoid starting a world war. Countries other than the US think of him as a nuclear weapon controlled by the US and will retaliate with nukes if he does anything against them. The US itself think of him as a nuclear weapon they don't control. A potential terrorist. Sixty ...


10

Just say that they walked for two weeks, but throw in a few interesting tidbits about the journey. The longer the journey, the more details you add. Don't just write; "Alright, to mount death we go!" I said. We walked for two weeks, arriving breathless from the travel, blahblahblah... Write something along the lines of; "Alright, to mount ...


9

My thought is to examine and write down your feelings and transfer them to the character. If you feel jittery before the battle, then she feels jittery before the battle, etc. You are in a perfect place to imagine her feelings. Also you can have the same attitude as your MC, "“Enough of this crap. I’m gonna write this thing anyway, might as well just ...


8

Well, first off, I kind of hate your backup plan. It's just... simply because someone is the hero of the story, doesn't mean they have to be unflinchingly, superhumanly heroic at every turn. The larger-than-life hero archetype has been done to death. Sciborg is right to invoke the Mary Sue trope. It's not that it doesn't work, it's that it's boring. Your ...


8

Just write. Write, and edit later. You’re never going to get anywhere if you say, “I don’t know what to do.” Just DO. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect at first. I know that I’ve edited my work (a few parts that I thought were good were actually crap, so keep that in mind too. No one’s perfect.) so much that only a few lines of the original are still in the ...


8

Let's assume that you know that the plot has to go from point A through points, B, C, D and E to end up at point E. Each of these points represent some necessary action or revelation. The question is how to get from point A to point B. If the points were on a physical map, there might be a dozen or more different ways to travel: walking, car, train, bicycle, ...


8

You need two things: conflict interesting characters There need to be conflict all the way. When you set up the characters, you need to show us what they are like by throwing them into situations that specifically force them to act in a way that reveals their character. If it feels predictable, have the most obvious solutions to their problems fail, and ...


8

Subtlety is Key... This is entirely your call. Clean writing says eliminate anything that doesn't add to the story. The great thing about a story is you can go back and edit anything. If you love the character (and they're that small). I'm a big fan of adding my own self to the story. You might have the MC forget about Autumn. Then the MC realizes Autumn has ...


8

This is the kind of thing you figure out in revision. I do this all the time in early drafts, dropping characters, adding new ones, renaming them, changing their marital status, changing their gender, etc. Pay attention as you read through your drafts whether that character adds anything to the story. If so, then you can bring her back or combine her with an ...


7

It's ok to use it if the dream is a very short scene, or if it takes place in the opening of the story. With short scenes, we have a very dreamlike duration, meaning IWAJAD doesn't delete or invalidate very much. It was only just a short scene after all. At the opening of a story, the scene can be longer. We're being introduced to one or more characters, and ...


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