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1

Choose the plot direction that makes the most sense for your characters. Who are they and what actions make the most sense for them? (Some folks start writing characters and let the plot emerge naturally from their actions.)


2

Sketch out both (or multiple) ideas as fully-fleshed plots from beginning to end. Get all your separate possibilities down on paper. Put everything aside for a week. Come back to them and re-read them. See if any one jumps out at you. Give your multiple outlines to friends and see if any one is particularly popular. Write a series of short stories playing ...


3

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 ...


0

Try to think of this not as a mere means to create suspense, but in terms of character development: Every story is about change. The Three Act structure provides a suitable framework to illustrate the change that your story deals with: Act I shows why change is necessary. Act II achieves change. Act III consolidates the change -- or "transformation" -- ...


0

It's a matter of how high you want the drama to go. Author Aaron Michael Ritchie has offered this example (and I like to use it): Let's compare a typical episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation to one from the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. In both episodes there is the Unthinkable Occurrence that must be avoided because it's awful. In STNG, we ...


1

Reading is an imaginative act on behalf of the reader which means two things: You need to give a reader all the information necessary to imagine whatever it is you want them to imagine. Readers will imagine whatever they want and you can only control them so much. Typically in more old fashioned writing you will see huge amounts of description telling ...


1

Is there any other reason to use this device in a narrative, beyond "to build tension"? No, but that's a heck of a good reason. Tension is the core of storytelling. But I do see your point about the way that the supposedly tension-increasing device of building up the stakes defeats itself when everybody knows that the heroes will win at the last moment. ...


2

It's in order to raise the stakes of the situation. When the heroes reach a situation where they fight or they fall, it's makes you much more invested than if the heroes have to fight or meh, someone else might come along and beat the bad guys. There were probably plenty of people that could have defeated The Destroyer in Thor, but they weren't available at ...


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.


1

This seems to be related to this question, and my answer is basically the same: Hurt him. You want him to go into the wood, but he hesitates? Great, that is natural and very nicely illustrates the concept of the "Threshold Guardian". Threshold Guardians generally try to prevent any kind of transformation. They are the inertia, the fear of the unknown, ...


2

The trick is to link his internal flaws and deliberations to clear, concrete details. That gives him something to do, something to engage with. It gives him a way to express his character. In this case, he's conflicted about entering the forest. That means you want one or two very specific things that he wants to find in the forest, and also one or two very ...


2

There are some common themes in literature; whether you choose to use them or not is up to you. 1. Mental illness/instability Anxiety, depression, psychosis, and phobias are common subplots and how the protagonist overcomes them. You might look online for the medical definition of these to fill out the character's deficiency. The most common solution in ...


1

Your problem is your characters have no readily identifiable motivation. That makes them less than human and impossible for an audience to relate to. Note that motivation is not necessarily the same as "backstory". People are different, and react differently to the same circumstances. You need to understand your characters better, otherwise manufacturing a ...


0

The problem here is there actually is no plot. There's a vague sibling context, and everything else seems shoehorned around it. Either we're not being told enough of the plot mechanics to understand it, or the plot doesn't actually exist. IMHO you have two choices: forget the plot and develop the characters further develop the fantastic aspect further, ...



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