Hot answers tagged

15

Skip the peaceful period. If there's no conflict, there's nothing to write about. Go to "Part II" of your book. Open with the characters having a party to celebrate two decades of peace. In the middle of the celebratory dinner, the bad guy drops a piano on the king, and the war is back on.


10

Make the even the people you are blaming, likeable. People are doing bad things out of good reasons and good things out of bad reasons. And even if they do bad things out of bad reasons, the reasons might not be bad because they are bad people. They might have been misinformed. They might have been tricked. They might have been stupid. They might have ...


9

When a character commits an evil act and you want to frame it as evil, there are different ways to acknowledge it. Describe it from the perspective of the victim. When the reader is confronted with the emotional results from the evil act, they will sympathize. Have the perpetrator condemn the act themselves and have them feel remorse. When that would be ...


9

According to dream logic, which often underlies work that is psychologically satisfying, death symbolizes rebirth. For example, in the movie American Beauty, the death of the main character comes at a moment of spiritual and moral renewal. We mourn the character, but we paradoxically and simultaneously experience the character's death as a liberation. ...


8

If characters never do bad things, you don't have a plot, and if every bad action is followed by a speech about how bad it is, you end up with a didactic polemic, not a novel. It's possible to frame even the worst actors within a larger moral framework --consider Nabakov's Lolita where the main character in a first person narrative is an unrepentant ...


8

Sounds fine to me. The prologue and epilogue are literally before and after the story, so it's fine for them to be formatted differently or have a different POV.


7

It depends on the genre and what you're trying to achieve, but it's certainly an accepted literary tool. The good ol' Man vs Self conflict. It'll almost certainly result in a character-driven novel, but there's nothing wrong with character-driven novels!


6

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 ...


6

It's totally okay, and makes for a nice vehicle of the theme (the plot itself is the deepest, subtlest and thus most effective means of making argument, as opposed to say the dialogue/opinions of your characters). But you shouldn't worry about whether or not it's arbitrarily "okay". Hesitation holds new writers back, and one of the quickest ways to develop ...


5

Reality is complicated. Usually, in the case of domestic violence, many factors lead to it. For example, both partners have specific fears, both show certain behavior, and all this slowly builds up to the moment when one partner hits the other. Literature is not law. In law, one party needs to be found guilty. In literature, you can show the complexity of ...


5

A few guidelines I learned from Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Describe whatever the character has an opinion about. This guideline helps me figure out what to describe. If it matters to the character in the moment, it goes in. Describing through the character's five senses makes the descriptions rich and vivid. Whatever you describe, ...


5

In a sense, this is the whole point to an epilogue --if it had the same feel as the main narrative, it would just be the last chapter. Epilogues exist solely to solve the problem of authors wanting to tell the readers things that don't --for whatever reason --fit into the main framework of the novel (and the same is true for prologues). That doesn't ...


5

I never read prologues. They bore the hell out of me. Start with your story. That's what I want to read. Weave in the information I need, and don't bother me with what's irrelevant. What I dislike the most: a prologue that makes me identify with and invest emotions in a character that does not appear in the main narrative the myths of a fictional world ...


5

Show the character's Strength (perseverance) being driven by his Weakness (ego, for example). Over time, our vices erode our strengths. When your character gives up (forfeiting his Strength), it is because his Weakness (again, ego, for example) has taken blows that it cannot withstand. While admiring his perseverance (as well as his other fantastic ...


5

Part of why we read fiction is to learn something by going through an experience with the character --that's what makes identifying with the character important. For someone to lose what they and others have always felt is their core strength is a real experience, and one that could be compelling to go through in fiction --if it resolves in a way that feels ...


5

Your story is fiction, don't sweat it. As far as bad taste, I write for a living. Life happens. I don't consider it bad taste. If anything, it is showing concern for the actual events in question and being thoughtful about implications. The typical time frame from manuscript to publication is a year, unless you're REALLY lucky or already established, in ...


5

The "goto part 2" idea doesn't take much. For example, let's use the legend of King Arthur, who as a boy pulled Excalibur from the stone, etc. and have him be maybe 10-11 years old. Hooray Arthur, "end of chapter 8" You could have Part II-Ten Years later, etc. but you could also simply say Chapter 9: Title... Ten years had passed, during which time ...


5

No it should not be an info dump. The story continues. The only thing that should change is you switch to the character’s voice instead of using your own. You might think of it as though your reader is going to put down your book, pick up a short story written by a character in your book and read that, and then pick up your book again. As a writer, you can ...


4

Answering more from a reader's perspective than a writer's, I'd prefer the version without the "cool for cool" powers --whenever I read something like that, it just seems like the writer being self-indulgent. You also run the risk of introducing plotholes. For instance, in the Harry Potter series, there are a number of over-powered magical devices (the ...


4

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. ...


4

I think the key to building a second act is to focus on the function of a second act: To increase the emotional payoff of the ending. Raise the stakes. This forces the character to keep going, and makes the reader more worried about failure. Eliminate options. None of the easy options work. None of the merely difficult or painful options work. No, in order ...


4

Just because the reader knows the reason for the Bridging Conflict doesn't mean the characters will be able to overcome it. In your example, even if the reader knows all the extra security measures are because of the Zombie Apocalypse, that doesn't mean that the zombies won't break through the security measures. In fact, it lends some extra tension. The ...


4

It depends largely on how you've lead up to it over the course of the novel, not just in the final scene. The reader won't be disappointed about not knowing the outcome of the battle if Steve's decision is sufficiently important to the reader, and sufficiently unsure up to that moment. We have to be seriously worried that he won't do it, and someone (maybe ...


4

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 ...


4

Near the end of the book, have a character comment on it, and perhaps express some kind of emotion about the mystery. If I remember right, Stephen King did that in The Colorado Kid. This trick—have a character comment on it—is useful whenever you want to make it clear that you are aware of something that may bother the reader. Not only unresolved story ...


4

A good twist fits into the story organically, at least in hindsight. So it doesn't have to be foreshadowed, necessarily, but there should be elements of the former plot that take a new shape after the twist, for sure. A good twist doesn't just change the story, it actually improves it. So Sixth Sense, as the obvious example, was an okay ghost story before ...


4

Give the victim a reason to betray the good guys. Make the victim a rounded character. Give him or her motivation, backstory, and personality. The reader may not see all the backstory you've created, but you as the author should know what it is, and write the person accordingly. Maybe the victim is being blackmailed by the bad guy and is genuinely sorry to ...


4

In addition to the answer by Mela Eckenfels: Do not lay blame unless it is actually warranted. The following is not something you can generally write in a book that gets published. It comes pretty close to moral relativism and that makes some people deeply uncomfortable. It is however something that anyone writing historical fiction should understand. What ...


4

There isn't a one-fits-all answer here. Generally speaking, your personal talent/skills in seeing and imagining connections will allow you less effort (and "work"/"formula"/"method") in devising them. It doesn't make you a better or worse writer to have that gift, but it certainly makes your job easier. If you want a couple of tips on how to be able to ...


3

In the strongest writing, everything that's been included by the author has a reason to be there -- adds something relevant to the theme, moves the plot forward, develops a character, etc. If you're already suspecting that an item is superficial, then you should probably remove it. You wouldn't want an unnecessary element to accidentally remove the reader ...



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