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The trick is to identify what is driving your story forward. Is it event driven (the volcano is about to erupt and everyone is reacting to that) or is people driven (a group of people decide to rob the local museum while everyone else is distracted by a volcano). For some reason, it's easier to write when events drive the narrative. Everyone just reacts to ...


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When I try to write about new species, and they're part of the ordinary world of the novel - but obviously completely unknown to the reader, then I actually have to know all of their peculiarities much better than I would have had to know if they had been new, unknown species to the world of the novel. Some of the things about people we all know well on a ...


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Whatever point you choose on that spectrum you will have some readers who won't like the place that you have chosen. You will never get the balance exactly right for everyone. I am sure some people would enjoy a purely anthropological study of another species, if it was well written and contained interesting insights - myself included. Equally, that would ...


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Treat fantastic, made-up facts the same as you would treat facts about our own world. Do you describe the physiology of human beings when you write a book about people like you and me? No. Neither should you go into medical detail when you write about aliens – unless your protagonist is a scientist studying them. In that case, give us the same amount of ...


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If the characters are only reacting, give each character something to want. A desire strong enough that the character will struggle to achieve it. Then make the character struggle. For dialogue, give each character an agenda. Things they want from the conversation. Things they do not want to happen. Things they do not want to reveal. And make sure their ...


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I think the problem with dialogue is often that people try to make it sound like real conversation when that isn't the purpose at all. The purpose of dialogue in a novel is to convey a point, but using a character to do so, instead of just telling the fact. Don't worry too much about what the character is saying, initially just get their point across, even ...


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As I've answered elsewhere I use sequence diagrams to map non-fiction (design) stories. Let us assume that I want to write a story about me and my mapmaking obsession. Then I would start like: (if the diagram is not readable you can download the diagram and open it with a picture viewer) On the top and bottom row are the story's actors and participants ...


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Put time-stamps at the beginning of each chapter, or time switch, and you should be okay. I'm not sure how you would indicate "present day" if your book starts "in the future," but that's up to you.


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IT will be confusing for some people. But are you going to use indicators to set them apart or just let them figure it out? Also, is that scene order going to be same throughout the entire story or are you just going to keep it that way for a few chapters? Eventually, if the readers really want to understand the book, they'll read rest of it and wouldn't be ...


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Just draw a map of the area and then write a description of each of the locations on the map. Write some little backstories of how each of the worlds factions came to be. Write descriptions of each of the cultures in your world and their history. The benefit to doing this up front is that when you write the novel you can have characters casually drop ...


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I like "The Board" as explained in Blake Snyder's book, Save the Cat. Write a summary of each scene on a flashcard and tape them to your wall in the order they should go. Make a new row when there's a turning point. It helps make sure the story is balanced. Ideally you should have 10 scenes per row, with a critical act turning point at the end of each row. ...


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Something you need to be aware of when creating a theme before characters etc is that you can end up shoehorning characters into the theme they are telling. If you're not careful with character development they can end up being stiffled by their 'role' in the general theme. The benefit of ignoring theme until the story and characters are written is that ...


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Your theme is the general statement you're making, but you can only make the statement via the plot. The plot should be developed via the organic actions of the characters. Therefore, decide on your theme, figure out a rough plot which will express this theme, and staff the plot with characters who will accomplish it.


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This seems like an odd question to me. Instead of asking how you can use graphs and flowcharts, ask yourself what tools you need to organize your story. If a flowchart would help, then fine. But maybe what you actually want is to write each scene on a notecard and keep them in a stack. You should choose your tools to suit the task you have and the style of ...


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When hope that the protagonist(s) will win is snuffed out. I came very close to this with Person of Interest in the middle of the most recent season. There are a number of Good Folks and several groups of Bad Folks. About mid-season the Bad Folks had racked up so many successes and the Good Folks were getting boxed into such a corner that I was struggling ...


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I use sequence diagrams to map non-fiction (design) stories. Update after comment @what: A very simple example of a sequence diagram is: Or perhaps I want to write a story about me and my mapmaking obsession. Then I would start like: On the top row are the story's participants (humans, object, places, moments in time etcetera). The arrows visualize ...


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I guess it really depends on the readers. There's a lot of fuss about GRR Martin, and if he does have a tendency to kill off characters unexpectandly, there are less murders in the books than in the series. And there are some author more prone to characters killing, as can be seen in many internet memes. Nevertheless, IMHO, the key isn't the death toll, but ...


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When there's no one likeable left alive. Or if there is anyone, you just know they're either faking it or doomed. TV Tropes calls it Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. I lasted until somewhere in the third Game of Thrones book. Or maybe it was only the second, I can't remember. Then I put the book down because I didn't want to read an account of a rape and ...



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