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Characters need to separate themselves from the crowd at the right time. For instance, if there is a tsunami, or something like Hurricane Katrina, most people will behave more or less alike. And in most cases, it's perfectly ok for characters to be passive, in the sense of not standing out from the crowd. It's what happens "afterward" that distinguishes one ...


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I think maybe you need to look at the difference between being "passive" in the sense of not making decisions or "passive" in the case of not caring. The situation you've described seems like your character is the first kind of passive. If he's also the second kind of passive, things will be trickier. But if it's just the first kind of passive... if it's an ...


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You don't want your character to be passive throughout your novel, but I don't see any issues with him being passive in the first chapter if that sets the scene. A consistently passive or reactive character is hard to make compelling, but even the most proactive person sometimes finds herself in situations beyond her control. I just wouldn't extend it for ...


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The motivation doesn't have to be massive or book-spanning. As Cole correctly notes, it could simply be "getting to the door." Or "not getting an elbow in the eye." Or "not choking from the smoke" (or whatever the problem is that's causing the evacuation). Or conversely, maybe your character's goal has nothing to do with the situation he's in. Maybe he's ...


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Ask yourself who this novel is really about. If it's about the main character, presented in chapter one as part of a crowd, you for sure want to make him more of an active agent in the story. If it's about a whole bunch of people and you change from chapter to chapter, it's fine to make him a little more passive. Either way, you're thinking of this in the ...


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When I read a book or watch a movie, I never seem to get the foreshadowing. No matter how strongly the reviews complain about forseeable plot twists or endings, I never know what will happen next. Maybe I'm too stupid, or maybe those reviewers just accidentally expected what the book delivered, but however that may be, for a reader like myself you don't need ...


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In addition to all the other excellent advice that was already given, I would like to point out that in our society (Western culture) violence towards children is a very strong taboo, so much so that in some countries it is even forbidden by law for parents to physically punish their children. While children do become the victims of all kinds of violence in ...


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For her reaction to make sense they should either know each other beforehand or at least the boy could remind her of someone dear to her. Either a son she lost, a former lover, her brother, whatever tickles your fancy. Think about it. She does her job for a while now so she surely justified in her head about why her work is not morally wrong. Then comes ...


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A plot twist is the opposite of foreshadowing. A close reader of a book and whatever you call a person who watches a movie with similar attention and astuteness should catch foreshadowing, especially since foreshadowing is done with a limited set of common devices. A plot twist, however, is calculated to surprise us. A plot twist is a sudden and surprising ...


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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 ...


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I think that whether these events are too coincidental depend on how many other such coincidences occur in your story. A chain of such coincidences is contrivance. One or a very small number of such coincidences is merely a fictional version of the "small world" in which real people live.


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Several good answers and I don't want to repeat what they said, but let me add: I think you can almost always get away with ONE coincidence that gets the story rolling. Like suppose the story begins with two people who are fierce business rivals just happening to meet in a social setting and becoming romantically involved, only discovering their identity as ...


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In combination with "lampshading" the unsolved mystery in dialogue, as mentioned in the answers by Jay and Dale Hartley Emery, you can demonstrate that your unanswered question is intentional by putting it right at the beginning or right at the end of the story, i.e. at the parts of the story where readers know that the writer is most likely to have ...


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It's a nice irony, that's all. But to give it depth you have to elaborate on the memory wipe. Are the memories gone forever? In which case the whole ordeal has much less importance to the plot than if they could regain their memories back, possibly generating further conflict. Sure they can find out about their past from other people, but since they can't ...


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Let there be important actions and / or information at those places, that are needed for the story. Otherwise the reader may always think you just try to "make pages"... One of the worst books I ever read was that way. Hundreds of pages because the protagonist just wanted to watch animals ... That had nothing to do with the story and was just annoying, ...


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Typically, I see this being done three different ways in the books I've read: A) The narrative is a journey: This is the simplest reason to visit many different places --the narrative is a trip, and each place is a natural stop along the way. B) There are Important Things located in each place. This can feel a bit cliche, but it's an old standard in ...


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If you want to include a place: Give characters a reason to go there. Have the characters interact with the things that make the place interesting to you (or to the characters, or to readers). Show the characters' sensory experience of the place, and their opinions of what they experience.


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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 ...


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The moment after the boy begins to fall, he might realize the inevitability of his imminent death. That point, while he is still in mid-air and has only begun to fall, might be a logical place to break off. In most modernist novels, as well as in contemporary commercial fiction, nothing is included that does not somehow advance the story. Corollaries ...


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So first of all, don't know what your story is about, writing style, etc. That said: I dunno if you've read Lord of the Flies, but there is an excellently handled scene there where someone falls to their death. It does describe the outcome - brains on a rock - but it's a quick, short description. However, because we have grown to know the character, the ...


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There are usually deeper reasons about why you get stuck writing a story. It could be that there just isn't enough tension (conflict) in the story to begin with. For example, can you imagine someone telling you a story that goes like this: My friend George was free climbing a cliff the other day. It's a terrible story that ended tragically. At one ...


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The Power of Tension In Our Stories We all understand that the thing that keeps readers reading is tension. So, we writers always want to include as much tension as possible in our stories. What Kind of Tension? You have to consider if you're writing the story this way in an effort to create tension because the story itself has so little tension. Why Do ...


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I think you're referring to [nonlinear narrative][1]. The pivotal moment for me was seeing Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino. I almost got whiplash being thrown around. When done effectively, like in Pulp Fiction, you keep wondering: How? You are constantly looking forward, even though you are often looking back. I can't tell you how to do it, but this ...


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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 ...


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Steve Martini's thriller The List starts that way. It's a terrific book. I think the technique is fairly common in thrillers. Not sure about other genres.


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Not knowing what your "purpose" of the story is, it's hard to give any solid advice. You could ask yourself: How can I best describe the death such that it supports my purpose? You can always scratch it later. It might be a chance to discuss something seemingly unrelated. For example, when you fall, your entire life flashes by. This is an opportunity to ...


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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 ...


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Do you have some other parts of the story worked out? I would just jump ahead for now and write the next scene that you "know". Then, before you know it, you can fill the gap.


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The thing with novels is that they're really squishy in form/shape until you decide what you want to do with yours. So as for "should I show the death"...what do you like to read? Are you turned off by explicit scenes? Or do you feel that without showing the scene, something important to your story is lost? As others have said, often the shape your book ...


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I just read a book called "Mrs. Queen Takes the Train," a little "what if" about Queen Elizabeth. Before the story comes together, we get the stories of six different household retainers and other people, and it only becomes a united story about halfway through the book. It's a delightful little fantasy, by the way --


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It's called a "braided novel" or "braided narrative", because you have several points of view, or storylines, merging into a whole later on. For example, George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones books are like this.


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It'll depend on what impression you wish to convey; If it's the horror of the boy's death, don't. It'll have more impact, and you won't distract the reader with details he might not want to know, or can perfectly imagine himself. On the other hand, if you're writing on the boy's point of view, you might want to convey his last moments to the reader. In ...


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It seems as if you are describing a story like Les Miserables which has various subplots, but it main thread is the story of Jean Valjean, which is like a story within a story Is this the type of story you are going for?


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We can't tell you what should happen in your story. (In fact, questions asking what to write are off-topic here.) But perhaps you can ask yourself a few questions: If the scene is described graphically, in gory detail, what effect will that have on the reader? Will it help to further the story, or will it cause the reader to put the book down in disgust? ...


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They could each join the same social group, on accident (one character is already a member; the other then joins, not knowing). This would force them into proximity, which would generate conflict and tension dependant upon their initial split. You could ride this tension for a full two years, or introduce it later on -- a year in, or six months -- so that it ...


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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 ...


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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!


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Platonov suggested compressing all episodes, especially boring episodes. You have a story with a great character who is not a significant one. (They're neither the perspective character nor the hero, who are two or one and the same.) Frequently present and visible they* behave intelligently and wittily, contribute humor, and is a person fun to write about ...


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Consider whether this is possible: Merge this character with another one who is integral to the plot.


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To take off on Lauren Ipsum's short, but excellent answer, you have three choices: 1) Re-write your current story so that your "cool" character is a key, perhaps main, character whose importance in the overall story matches his importance in individual scenes. 2) Remove the character from this story and give him a separate story, 3) A hybrid of the two: ...


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Without knowing te specifics of the plot and the character development I have to say I'd find that climax personally disappointing. The whole concept of character development is for them to get wherever they're going by themselves. The fact that the main character is being told what to do, in effect, negates the whole journey. Note that I don't disagree ...



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