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There are great books and many online resources about character development. They all rely on something like creating lists of characteristics (e.g. personality traits, moral values and so on) or writing your characters' curriculum vitae, but I take a somewhat different and much simpler approach. When I read, I am usually deeply irritated by characters that ...


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You seem to be interested in creating a "parallel universe" for your story. That is, a world slightly different from the "real one." In your shoes, I wouldn't sweat the "worldbuilding" part. You want to tell just enough about the alternate world to make your story work, but you don't need to discuss your world in excruciating detail (unless your "world" is, ...


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My best suggestion would be to rough the world building as you write your story, this way the world can form around your story and not the story around the world. This of course is not how reality would have it, in reality all of our stories adapt around the world as lifes struggles form our civilizations. I am not saying to preclude changes to the story to ...


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I like what's list of ingredients. I would add two more to consider: Struggle. What keeps the character from achieving the goal? This might be antagonist or some other obstacle. What must the character do to achieve the goal? Stakes. If the character fails, so what? What are the consequences to the character, the community, the world? The key to a blurb ...


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I think you might be happy in game development or some other industry where different artists focus on different aspects of the whole. If I where you I would try to search for something like "worldbuilding jobs" and whatever other search phrase you can come up with. Here is a blog that covers game writing: http://blog.ubi.com/tag/the-write-stuff/ There is ...


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There are lots of great fictional encyclopedias and fictional history books and if you want to write one you should! I remember lots of great books that I read as a kid that had but a whisp of narrative and instead mostly consisted of a fantastically realized world. One of my favorites was "Need A House? Call Ms. Mouse!". Illustrated books would probably ...


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I would suspect that you may be having a specific problem with storytelling (which is not quite the same thing as writing.) I myself do a lot of worldbuilding for fictional purposes, and your description: "I will spend large amounts of planning the geography so small pockets of interesting species can live secluded, how the trade between countries work, ...


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LotR does in fact have such a book (I believe it is the Silmarillion). However, that book could only be published because the Hobbit/LotR books came first. In short, there would be no interest in it without LotR in the first place. This is why an encyclopedia or history book of a fictional land will not work on its own. It may get published, but the interest ...


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It is called an epigraph or motto.


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It sounds like you're something of a discovery writer (aka pantser). You wrote lots and lots of material, and now you have to carve away everything which doesn't fit your plot. If you are a discovery writer rather than a planner, then removing all the parts which don't belong there is part of the process of writing your first draft. Keep all the cool bits ...


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I have been told that the sentence you should cut out is the one you love the most. I have found this true of my own writing: a really interesting section just has to go because it doesn't fit within the whole. Sometimes I have be able to re-cast an idea. Sometimes I have been able to use it in another story or play. Sometimes I have to just throw it away.


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To me a plot driven story is like real life: you have no idea what goes on in another person's mind and all you know about them you deduce from their actions. If a person sees some event and reacts to this in a particular way, it is completely unnecessary to explain that person's motivation, because it is apparent. That is the basis of "show, don't tell". ...


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I think it be best if you show the rules and the consequences of breaking them in easily digestible chunks. Don't overload the reader with too much at once. A easy mistake to make would be forgetting that you know the rules like the back of your hand, while your reader will be encountering them for the first time. Heck I be tempted to not explain the rules ...


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Increase the emotional charge of the main plot. Some possibilities: Increase the intensity of the main story. Make the conflict more conflicty. For example: Maybe some of his allies, horrified at having witnessed what he is capable of, begin to see him as just as evil as the regime they are struggling to destroy. Maybe some of them abandon him, or even ...


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Try to look at it dispassionately; it sounds like maybe the problem is just that it's had enough of an emotional impact on you that you feel like you need to give it the treatment it deserves, rather than paring it back to what is appropriate for your story. What does the audience really need to know about the character? You could write as little as ...


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Without knowing your plot its hard to say, but I think you might have already mentioned the word at the heart of a possible solution. Circle. Don't just have his past haunt him, and explain his actions. Make him confront it again in the main plot. Bring him full circle. What you currently think is your main plot, is just the excuse to see him in action. ...


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I would note one thing: The "dull" first passage has eight lines. The medium middle passage has four lines. And the interesting last passage has two. If anything, it should be the other way. Cut down the dull first passage to no more than four lines, and "beef up" the interesting passage to four (or more) lines.


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Your readers will substitute either themselves or a standard archetype for the hero unless you tell them otherwise. They only will need to know enough to know why the hero is doing the things he/she does, why he/she is upset or angry at the actions of the antagonist or why the hero doesn't just take the obvious route to the story solution. Even then you only ...


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The great thing about 'suddenly' is that it appears at the start of the sentence, so itself appears suddenly to the reader, but you can replace it easily with something stronger... Start a sentence with a jarring word or image instead of a 'suddenly'. Like one, or even all of the below examples: Blood splattered his hands. Glass shattered around ...


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This is actually an interesting construct, where the protagonist wants to punish the antagonist for doing the "right" thing, the reverse of the usual. Realize that the protagonist (patient) feels that the doctor did absolutely the WRONG thing. Then have him run down the the doctor like a revengeful "lawman," while the doctor almost gets away. The best ...


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Actually, there's a social rule of thumb here, that may apply in fiction. That is, to treat serious matters lightly, and light matters gravely. As another answerer pointed out, you're mother's comments seemed "too light," until you drop the bomb" about animal self destruction. Here, the mother ought to get concerned, but she doesn't, a perfect foil to your ...


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I believe you must set up all the rules of magic, and the story world as a whole in the first act. Even if you're not doing 'acts' as such, you should set up the rules before your protagonist begins his/her problem solving. You can hide them like a whodunnit hides clues, but they must be there from the start otherwise the readers will feel you're making ...


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If do you want to liven up the dialogue you perhaps need to add some conflict into the mother's state of mind. Her input to the scene is sadness and worry, which is a little predictable and one dimensional, and that makes it difficult to conjure interesting expression. The mother could carry other traits or motivations. She may be hiding guilt, regret, a ...


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Don't forget good old misinformation. Perhaps the antagonist believes the protagonist is a nasty piece of work and needs to be brought to justice. Similarly feel free to use stress, misconceptions and being emotionally unstable to make the antagonist consider the protagonist to be the 'bad guy'. Treating the first person you meet with a connection to one ...


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Don't cut it if you can make it better. You are wasting some conflicts here and your inputs to the scenes are a bit simplistic. In the first example you have him tired and her sympathetic. Both of those are quite weak. We've all been there and said the same things so you're telling us nothing about the characters. Tiny tweaks to those inputs could inspire ...


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That sounds more like a twist ending, the big reveal with "haha! I was acting this entire time!" Having the protagonist act one way the entire time and then pulling the rug out from the audience will leave them feeling a little bit confused and annoyed. If they've rooted for a genuine person all along and then they turn out to be a bitch, they won't feel ...


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There are stronger and weaker words, but using weaker words isn't always bad. Using strong words all the time would be as bad as using weaker words all the time, as it wouldn't distinguish when something is less severe. In addition, contrasting strong/weak words shows what the reader should focus on more. Consider the two sentences: John stared at the ...


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While some computer programs are helpful in simple tasks, they can't pick out things like clichés, redundancies, and word salad (unnecessary filler words). That requires the fresh perspective, which can only come from others such as fellow writers, beta readers, editors, etc. The best advice for any writer is to read your manuscript aloud, rewrite, get it ...


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All the answers are very detailed and helpful. With that said, I think you're also asking about the general difference between active and passive writing. If that's the case, here's a blog post that you might find useful. http://sirragirl.blogspot.com/2011/12/passive-voice-in-creative-writing.html?m=0


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In general, the "stronger" words in your examples are more specific. Twisting is a kind of turning. Treading is a kind of walking. What makes them "stronger" is that they give you more control of what the reader experiences. If you say, "turn," the reader can conjure many, many images of someone turning. If you say "twist," that eliminates all kinds of ...


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Of course. As Tave says, some words have stronger emotional connotations, or convey the idea of more extreme action. George was exhausted after toiling for untold hours. George was tired after working for a long time. John was overcome with passion for Sarah, whose beauty filled his dreams. John liked Sarah and thought she was pretty. ...


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Clichéd descriptions and hackneyed actions exist in writing because they are such common occurrences in real life. For example, when people are waiting anxiously for something, they often really do pace up and down the room. I've done it; you've done it. And people often use clichés in real life, e.g., "it's raining cats and dogs out there" or "she was ...


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People do pace up and down when tense. It's hardly more of a cliché than depicting them as crying when sad. Make them say or think surprising and non-clichéd things while they pace.


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Words have connotations. Using these overtones and implied meanings to create the effect you want makes them strong words. For example, compare these two versions of essentially the same thing: The man killed the boy. The monster slaughtered the innocent child. The second version is more emotive, and some words do stir the emotions more, but there may be ...


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There is an immense collection of common tropes and clichés, with plentiful usage examples, at tvtropes.


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Particularly in action scenes, it can be tough to weed out which sentences need to start with the MC's name or pronoun. If the sentence has a modifying phrase, it may be worthwhile to place the phrase in the front of the sentence. I also avoid starting sentences with verbs. This is a technique that can introduce a dynamic feel, but when used too often or ...


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Yes, there are stronger words and while when writing (especially fiction) it is perfectly acceptable to use less strong words but it's better to avoid them if you can. As you say, you're trying to invoke your readers senses. Example: I landed on the floor with a bump I thumped onto the floor Using stronger words can also allow you say the same but ...


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I think you may need to look at the traditional three act structure. Act one is setting up the every day life of your character(s) and ends with the inciting event which leads into act two. Act two is the main bulk of the story, leading up to a large peak and ends with that moment where it looks like your hero(ine) cannot possibly succeed. Act three is ...


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I think there's a difference between character development and character depth. Development means change. You can have an interesting villain who is only ever a villain, but still has backstory, motivation, relationships, and hobbies. That's a deep character who doesn't change. But if your character acts like a boring, shallow buffoon for two acts and then ...


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I totally agree with the answer given by Tommy Myron, but I think there is one thing to add about the way you look at this question. I think whether you decide to use your ideas now depends on whether the ideas concerned are or are not naturally part of your current plot. If they are, i.e. if they fit harmoniously into the series of events that you consider ...


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There's no inherent reason why an author can't write from a perspective that does not exactly match every characteristic of him- or herself. Yes, trying to write from the point of view of a member of the opposite sex creates challenges. But so does writing from the POV of someone of a different nationality, or religion, or political persuasion, or ...


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There is no problem. Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack, Friday by Robert Heinlein and many of his short stories, Contact by Carl Sagan, Big U by Neal Stephenson, Cybernetic Samurai by Victor Milan. It's quite common in speculative fiction and fantasy anyway. The observant writer shall have no problem. The unobservant one will pointlessly ...


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First off, I applaud your goal. I read so many stories where the villain is evil for no apparent reason. Most evil people in the real world don't cackle insanely and shout "I will destroy all that is good and true!!" Rather, they have very plausible-sounding reasons for their evil. Some examples of plausible motivations that come to mind: Carrying what ...


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I realize that I am probably getting way ahead of myself in planning book 3 when I haven't even finished book 1 Not necessarily. I would actually recommend that you know exactly how things will turn out before you begin. As to your question: Should I use up good ideas within a book that I'm already planning on writing that wouldn't be utilized to ...


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I will tell you the single most helpful thing that helped me in constructing characters for a story. That is the Alignment System. It is often used in role-playing games to construct broad characters, but I've found it is a great jumping off point for creating a more detailed, well balanced character. Constructing a 2d grid and plotting good-evil and ...


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The antagonist can have any motivation as long as they feel justified. It sounds simple but it really is true. In your House example, the antagonist feels fully justified in his actions because his wife killed herself. In a more amusing example, wrestler Mick Foley (Mankind / Cactus Jack) once turned on a tag team partner because he'd left Doritos on the ...


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This may seem a bit unorthodox, but if you'd like to see a very good example of an antagonist with believable motivations, the character Jack/Handsome Jack from the Borderlands video game series is an excellent place to start. This example may be a bit more outlandish/extreme than what you're going for (at least from what I can extrapolate from your House ...


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There are three man ways to deal with antagonist motivation. They can sometimes be combined. No explanation of motive. The book is about the protagonist, the antagonist is just another problem. related variants are mystery and insanity. Pure evil. "Why?" "Because I can, because I want to, because it feels good". Everyone is a hero it their own eyes. True ...


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I actually have the same problem you do. I'm writing a story with more than one antagonist. For the first antagonist I created a motivation for him to act as a "bad guy". The context is about two company owners competing to get a client's account. Protagonist makes an offer to the antagonist as if the protagonist is going to win the contract, even though ...


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Michael Swan's Practical English Usage (2nd ed., p. 285): 296 -ing forms used like nouns (5):        -ing form or infinitive? ... 10 begin and start Begin and start can be followed by infinitives or -ing forms. Usually there is no important difference.      She began playing / to play the guitar ...



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