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25

It's definitely possible to do this without losing the reader. The New Testament is a story where the "protagonist" dies towards the end. I'm sure plenty of readers are quite satisfied with that. Much like the Gospels, killing the protagonist is advisable only if it really means something. Emphasis on the really. Even if you make your character a martyr ...


15

If the goal of the scene is to show why a person decides what he or she decides, then you only give the detail necessary to demonstrate that. If part of what changes Adam's mind afterwards is the way she looks, you need to focus on her appearance and not the act. ("He watched her face change as he slid into her" or "his eyes roamed hungrily over her ...


14

I'm not an accomplished writer (heck, I'm not even an unaccomplished writer), but here are some techniques used by actual real-life authors: Charlotte's Web: The eponymous character (the spider) dies near the end, but the author deals with this by having two main characters; the spider and the pig. When the spider dies, the attention is drawn to the pig, ...


10

Try plotting backwards. The writers of House, MD often worked this way. They figured out some esoteric disease or ailment (or perhaps something not so esoteric but easy to confuse with other problems) and then worked backwards to lay red herrings and misdirection. So you have the ending you want (heroine gets macguffin). Work backwards from there. Each ...


9

We've addressed "the protagonist continues to talk after dying, even in first person" here: Ways for main character to influence world following their death 1st person story, but the main character will die in the end and some of the story needs to be told after his death. How to solve this problem? It sounds like your concern is that the death of the ...


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 ...


8

I decide what should be written next only when I am writing that. This called being a "pants writer" or a "pantser," meaning that you write by the seat of your pants. It's completely valid as a workflow, IF you are then willing to go back to the beginning when you're finished and edit with a firm, even harsh hand. Just because it spews out of you ...


8

Make sure you have introduced another character to take his place, and that at that point the reader has already developed some connection with it. From that point forward, work to intensify the connection between them.


8

First of all: it's your choice how far you want to go into detail. When two characters having sex is a plot point in a story which is not supposed to be erotic or not even romantic, a detailed description of the deed can seem out of place, especially when you aren't really comfortable writing it. This can go so far as to just imply that sex has taken ...


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

For a moment abandon the crew of your story and have a peek at your readers. Well, before that prune endings that are too expectable, out of characters or otherwise faulty, but once you come with the decent set... Which ending would be most satisfying? Which would elicit most of the emotions which you want to create? Instead of thinking within the story ...


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

Even if readers are radically and nearly exclusively committed to the protagonist, there are several ways for the protagonist to "speak after death". The protagonist's legacy can speak. (This is covered in the answers to "Ways for main character to influence world following their death", linked in Lauren Ipsum's answer. The legacy of a Cause does not seem ...


6

Give the characters something unique: It doesn't have to be something mind-blowing or some kind of superpower. It could be something as simple as a toe fetish or not being able to remember dates. Give them an unexpected behavior: The wife of one of them left him and he reacted by ... cleaning the house from morning to night?! What? Give them an ...


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

Allow me to introduce you to Scrivener. Scrivener is a word processor which allows you to create unlimited documents within a single project, and organize them into folders. You can have each book project as a folder, and within a book folder have multiple subfolders. You can see all your documents in a nice document tree in a side pane. You can drag ...


5

There are a number of instances of this being done well in both book and film. However there are also a number of instances of it being done badly - so you are right to be cautious. Some examples where it does work: Film: American Beauty Book & Film: The Lovely Bones Books: A lot of David Gemmell's books A running theme through his books is ...


5

I firmly believe that you should try both approaches and experience yourself what works best for you. Would you marry someone that you have never seen? Would you sign up for a job, or employ a new worker, without some practical probation? Would you buy a car without testdriving it? Would you decide on a lifelong diet without trying at least one meal? Do you ...


5

I don't believe there really are long ideas or short ideas. Instead, there are just ideas. Even if you say that your plot is very detailed, it doesn't really matter. Instead, it all depends upon how you write the scenes. Here's the entire Wizard Of Oz (by Frank Baum) story. The year is 1935. The place, a dirt road, somewhere in Kansas. Dorothy, ...


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 ...


4

The original Tarzan book deals with this situation. His parents had several years' worth of picture and children's books, which they intended to use to educate him while they did whatever they were doing in Africa (which I forget) before they were marooned by pirates. [edit: Then they both died while Tarzan was still a baby.] So, yeah, they had a ...


4

To clarify on the alternative method that the others have posted: instead of writing the erotic scene, build up to it and fade to black just before it starts. Leave the act itself to the imagination of the reader. The problem with erotic scenes is that it's easy to write a scene, but it's hard to write it well, and it's even harder to write it so that it ...


4

I keep a second word processing document open where I scribble down ideas and thoughts which don't fit into the current point in the story. This document is a grammar-free, style-free zone. I record the ideas as quick as I can type them, then jump back to the main document and dive back into its tempo and style. I make no promises to the ideas in ...


4

Give the character a problem, no matter how small. When the character tries to solve the problem, make the attempt fail. And make it fail in such a way that things get worse. Now the character has a bigger problem. When the character tries to solve that one... To continue the story, add another try/fail cycle. To end the story, have your character put ...


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. ...



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