Hot answers tagged

16

I'm not going to tell you how to solve your problem. Quite frankly, I don't know how to solve your problem, despite having faced it countless times myself in the past. Instead, I'm going to show you why you have this problem in the first place. I'm going to show you how to treat the cause instead of the symptoms. Not knowing what to include in your novel ...


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 ...


10

There is one rule in writing from which everything else stems: you write for the reader. However, from that rule, you can deduce that if you turn out a novel that you know could have been better, you are cheating the reader from reading it. You've examined other possible routes which do not include the character's death, but you've found that none of them ...


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. ...


9

If the character knows the vital detail, and if the vital detail matters to the character, and you want us readers to be deeply inside the character's head, you have to give the detail. Otherwise, when you reveal the detail, we suddenly discover that we were never really deeply in the character's head after all. If we were, then we too would have known the ...


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

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 ...


6

Your goal, as the author, is for the characters to bond over the journey. But what is your reader reading for? Your reader doesn't know that the characters are meant to bond by the journey's end. They might not even care, at this point, about the characters bonding. You've given the reader one thing to look forward to, one milestone he knows is the next ...


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

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 ...


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 ...


5

I think it is possible to pull this kind of thing off. In this particular instance the intriguing idea of keeping their relationship secret for a while would obviously change what details, memories, etc. you can delve into during inactive periods, but if done right this could lend a strong hand to grabbing the reader's interest sometime in the middle or end ...


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

This is a question I've asked many a time myself. I'm also writing a fantasy/medieval story and I've struggled with this to the point that I just skip writing these traveling scenes (which you shouldn't do; it's essential to show time and distances have been passed/covered). Depending on what voice you're using (first person, third person, etc.), I would ...


4

It's an attempt to build tension to the maximum possible. The villain has won. Oh no. Much tension. Will Hero be able to get out of this? How will Hero ever get out of this? The author is hoping these unstated questions will drive tension and keep the reader interested.


4

You're being given a prompt, so that will do half the work for you. I think it was J. Michael Straczynski, writer of Bablyon 5, who wrote that one could sum up "conflict" in three questions: What does the character want? What will the character do to get it? What will someone do to stop the character? So you take your prompt (John needs to find a flat ...


4

Character-Driven Story Is Driven From Self-Concept Self-concept is one of the strongest powers on earth. That's because so many people have self-concepts which put them at odds with the world around them. Self-concept drives the actions a person takes. Because it is so real, it is the essence of what we search for in our stories. Self-Concept Drives ...


3

You might need to clarify your question: I'm not sure exactly what you mean. But maybe: (a) As Dale Emery says, have the character's comment on it. If, for example, you never mention what Fred does for a living, the reader may not even notice that you don't bring it up. Or if it's obviously relevant, the reader may wonder if the author made a mistake by ...


3

Just skip to the next plot point and write that. Chances are that later on you'll think of a way to bridge the two, and then you can come back and fill in the details when that happens. I would guess that very few writers proceed sequentially through an entire work. It's good to jump around when you're finding yourself stuck; there's no point in stagnating ...


3

I would say it would depend on whether specifics of the device has any bearing on the plot. In your example the bomb specifications themselves don't seem to be relevant to the story.



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