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56

You have a realistic effect that follows from the situation that you've put your character in, but that effect isn't interesting, nor does it affect the story in any significant way. The solution is have it happen off screen. You have the MC eat, realistically they'd have to use the toilet. But you don't necessarily write about them using the toilet, right?...


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 ...


30

There are other stakes than death. From all of Jane Austen to some of Asimov, sometimes the world isn't about to end, and nobody is about to die. So what else is there? First, your story can be small: will the guy get the girl? That's Jane Austen. Will things work out financially for the MC? Hector Malot and Charles Dickens. Will a criminal be caught (and ...


25

You can't This is not a romance. This is a master having sex with his slave. Or wanting to have sex. But he's going to free the slave! Is he now? But the person is still a slave when this all begins. This is an unequal relationship of exploitation. Is it possible for someone in a subordinate relationship to genuinely love someone above her/him? ...


17

Everything in your story should have a purpose. That purpose does not need to be plot related Possible purposes for a side plot in a story: It is connected to the main plot It causes character development It shows existing character traits to the reader It echoes the themes of the story It enhances the symbolism of the story It develops the setting etc etc ...


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, ...


15

Only put in what is necessary for the plot. You develop the character so that the actions s/he takes make sense for the plot. If the character reveals something about his/her past, there should be a plot-related reason for it. (That reason might be another character's reaction, or how it furthers a relationship, but there has to be a reason.) Otherwise, ...


15

(I think you know what you have to do ... It hurts, but do it.) Here's the format I would follow to cut darlings in your situation. I'll assume you are writing a novel, some sort of fiction. Do you have a main character? (Or do you have an ensemble cast.) I'll assume one main character. If you have a main character, is there a single 'high stakes' idea ...


15

Let's take a look at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in the Lord of the Rings: First, we have the Rohirrim. Among them are Theoden, Éowyn, Éomer and Merry. Then we have Minas Tirith, with its various forces, and with Gandalf and Pippin as focal point characters. There's the events inside the city with Denethor, and there's Imrahil outside. In the middle ...


14

Leave them out You don't seem to want to write about or develop the doctor and they don't seem to have much value to you. If that is the case then you should probably leave them out. The simplest way to do that is simply have the MC think/talk about their sessions with their psychiatrist without ever writing about the sessions directly. However two other ...


12

I think in real life the vast majority of people that are depressed, or even suicidal, will not go to a doctor at all. I don't know what the situation in Britain may be, but here in the USA that would be expensive, time consuming, and it carries a stigma in both employment and society to have been treated for a "mental illness", even depression. The vast ...


12

Writing SE often gets a lot of questions in this vein: "Should I include [thing] in my story, since so many other books in my genre have it?" "I don't feel super comfortable writing [thing] but I feel obligated to write it, should I?" "Will readers expect [thing] in my story and be disappointed if it's not there?" The answer ...


11

You might have a Frame Story as your main plot that connects several short stories. Famous examples are One Thousand and One Nights where the wily hero Shahrazade narrates short stories to stay alive, and Canterbury Tales where each short story is told by a different character within the frame story. A similar idea in cinema is called an Anthology Film, ...


9

The trick to coincidences is to explain them. In the fact a character bumps into someone who turns out to be is attributed to as hinted at in the name (I don't normally add spoiler tags to my examples, but the film I mentioned is recent and amazing). In your case you want to explain why your MC has made a friend of one person and an enemy of their ...


8

Why do you think you need to make it seem significantly relevant early on? All you need is to make the thread interesting. You may drop a couple hints. Hang some Chekov guns. Signal the reader the thread is of any relevance, no matter how minor. And then make that thread good. Make it a captivating story on its own. As long as the thread is interesting, ...


8

Assuming she survives (or in some cases even if she doesn't depending on how the story is structured) don't forget that you can always do the short version (which I agree with the others would most likely work better for an action scene) but then weave the other details in retrospectively. For example perhaps she's in hospital afterwards talking about that ...


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

As I am prone to do perhaps too often in this forum, I say it depends. Mostly upon what your intentions are. That is, why did you write the story in the first place. Let me take an "extreme" position and then back off from it. Everything in the story must advance the theme or central question that the story presents. If there is a side story, that part of ...


6

What you need to do is define the relationship between the subplot and the primary plot. In other words, you need to know what role the romance subplot is playing in your story. Almost any relationship will do (and you can use more than one), but knowing what you're aiming for will help you write the right thing, and put the focus on the right places. Some ...


6

You have probably done yourself a great favour by working out some character background. It is something I recommend to new writers because it helped me so much. The thing you need to remember is who you are writing for with the background. The background is for you, the story is for the reader. In any given scene you include what is necessary to advance ...


6

I've read a lot of novels were a very likeable character is introduced just to vanish and reappear at another time. It's pretty normal; after all, you have to tell a story, and in most stories, not everyone is present anytime. In the Fellowship of the ring, for istance, Gandalf is away for quite some time. He has other business. Funnily enough, Tolkien did ...


6

As Autumn appears as a token of the Queen's support and as the Queen comes to their salvation at the end of the tale, you could consider dropping in very small and perhaps mysterious comments re Autumn's activities and presence along the way. These could take very little effort to add but could add an (extra) element of mystery and you could if desired weave ...


5

I'll tag along what @RobtA said above, regarding reversing the question and asking when you can get rid of subplots. You described your writing process as very structured, so consider this formula for figuring out when and where to have subplots: Write a rough draft of your story, focusing only on the main plot. Read what you wrote. Do you feel it was ...


5

You can (and probably should) tell your characters' background stories, but you should also ask yourself a question - "would it make my book better?" There are a few rules that I think are important: A backstory should be interesting by itself; A backstory should be relevant to the main plot, or at least provide some important answers to the questions the ...


5

Painful as it is, circumstances like this can warrant writing an entirely new draft from scratch. Your memories of the characters and plot points from the current draft would inform you in such an effort, but you're liable to produce a "greatest hits" rewrite in which those minor characters you like become more major characters. I had to do this once ...


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