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15

What's the most important thing that your readers need to know right way? What's the scene that will drag them into your story? The answers to those questions will tell you what should come first. It's certainly possible to write a convoluted, insanely complex story, jumping back and forth in time. Kurt Vonnegut wrote: "Start as close to the end as ...


14

Moral ambiguity = the fuel of good literature. To answer your question in more concrete, and perhaps useful, terms: As all us really old people know, there's really no such thing as a happy ending. Things break down, everyone dies, entropy rules, and so on, blah, blah, blah. Whether an ending is "happy" or not I've found to be negligible as far as the ...


12

I promise you, if you do it without permission and get published nonetheless, they will sue the shit out of you. You have to ask for permission, there will be legal contracts, because the world's "owner" wants money, your story must really fit and must not disrupt anything the owner wants to do in the future. So, if you have a name and are already ...


11

Really long answer, I apologize. Hope it's useful. I thought about learning from novelists. But it seemed that some of the skills, i.e. expressing ideas through writing, won't translate well to expressing ideas through a game. I thought about learning from screenplay writers. It seems fairly relevant to storywriting for games. No, no, wrong ...


10

Technically you cannot copyright a plot. However, you can copyright a particular instance of that plot as long as it is not based on an older work in the public domain. In your Harry Potter example if every chapter had exactly the same incidents and more or less the same dialogue with slightly altered character names you would probably lose in court trying ...


10

If you are writing it to make money: don't. If the world created gives you inspiration and makes you sit down and write for hours, then go ahead and do it. It's your mind, and you can write whatever you want as long as it's not published. Let people/editors/whoever read it, and if the feedback tells you it is really, really good, the you can contact the ...


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 ...


8

I think you found one of the big uses: Character introductions. There are many books that have a segment along the lines of "As they were riding the train to Lyon, he couldn't help but to look at her and her perfect auburn hair. It was this hair that immediately caught his eye when he first saw her 6 years ago. It was the graduation party at her brothers ...


8

The best advice I ever read regarding flashbacks was from the excellent book, "How To Write A Damn Good Novel" by James N. Frey. He commented that flashbacks are very much overused and misunderstood, and speculated that writers often use them because they get anxious about the characters they themselves have created, and are trying to avoid conflict. At ...


8

Here's several tricks I have used to handle flashbacks: Vary their length and use them more often. If you think of flashbacks more like memories of varying length, it becomes apparent that they can be as short as one sentence or as long as an entire chapter. Humans are constantly bombarded with moments of past experience. Some are just a single second of ...


8

Lots of writers start writing with no idea where it will go, much less how it will end. Dean Wesley Smith has a book about that, called Writing Into the Dark. On the other hand, I once heard Richard North Patterson claim that "Any mystery writer who starts without knowing the end is committing authorial malpractice." (The next time I read one of his books, ...


7

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 your approach is wrong. Rather than trying to write what you love, you are trying to write for all the market segments. This almost never works. If it was so easy to cater to different market segments with a single book, publishers would have done so by now by using salaried writers. Instead, you not only have vampire novels, but vampire romance, ...


6

This is a very interesting question that touches on the nature of fiction and non-fiction and the many ways in which they intersect. Two approaches come to mind, both encapsulated in books I've read. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (2003). The author describes the true and somewhat dangerous circumstance of secretly meeting with female English ...


6

As always in a good story, I'd say it depends. Is the riddle itself relevant to the story? Or, is the method of solving it relevant to the story? If so, I think it's fair to show the reader how the protagonist solves the riddle, even if it ends up boiling down only to something like he thought about it for a moment before it dawned on him that these ...


6

CAVEAT: I am not a lawyer. At the level you're describing, yes, this is copyright infringement. Basically, if it's easy to demonstrate that your work is "substantially similar" to another piece, to which you had access, then infringement can be proved. Working with similar themes, plot elements, and tropes generally doesn't constitute such extreme ...


6

This answer is highly, highly subjective. But I personally dislike almost every YA dystopian future novel I've ever read (they're all the same thing to me and they're all predictable), so I think if you're asking about reader expectations, I might be a good person to answer the question... mostly because I see similarities in all of the YA novels I've ...


5

You can do both by leaving the riddle unexplained at the time but later have another character demand to know how the protagonist passed the door. Then the method can be explained to reinforce the smugness of those who worked it out or to put the rest of us out of the misery of not knowing.


5

I get the impression that underneath this question is a question about ideal structure. That's too philosophical a topic so you have just presumed such a thing exists and based your question on that presumption. So to reword slightly: "Given the existence of an ideal plot structure and all that goes with it how do I, as a writer, take advantage of that to ...


5

The other option - additional option, as you should definately write under a pseudonym - is to write something that is clearly fictional, but tells the true story. Then you are not being libelous, as you are not making any claims to truth, but you are getting the story out there. You could write another piece for publication once resolved, indicating the ...


5

Just be aware, why flashbacks are considered bad: Many people cannot follow them. Take as example the movie Pulp Fiction. There is a character which is shot during the movie (I do not want to spoil). Later in the movie you see him alive again for an (for me) obvious reason: the movie is now showing a scene which took place later (like a flashback). I think ...


5

I'm going to spin this around for you. In Jeffrey Schechter's My Story Can Beat Up Your Story, Schechter suggests that a lot of theme is about the protagonist asking a thematic question, e.g., "Should I settle for less romantically?" "Can I balance 'ordinary' responsibilities with my secret identity?" "How do I decide who to trust?" And in ...


5

There is a balance between maintaining point of view, and maintaining suspense, which can crop up whenever your protagonist or your POV (point-of-view) character is planning ahead in any detail. The difficulty is this: If in your story your POV character is making plans and preparations, and then afterwards he puts those plans and preparations into action, ...


5

This is a very common problem among writers and I personally experience it in two distinct flavors. Sometimes, I fall in love with a story idea and just charge into writing it without spending any time on story design, character development or plotting. When I give in to this temptation, the results pretty much parallel what you are describing above. I ...


5

Believe it or not, there are many writers out there, real writers, who don’t particularly like writing very much. It’s true! Some find the process tedious, even torturous, and find it difficult to stay focused for the length of time it takes to finish. Like many writers out there, I’m someone who finds writing really difficult. I ultimately derive great ...


5

The answer hinges on where you go with this. If you show the humanity of both victim and perpetrator, their personality, what led to the events and how they deal with it afterwards, in a realistc manner, I don't see a problem with such a book. Due to the nature of the subject and the current heated debate, such a book would certainly trigger some extreme ...


5

There's definitely an interesting story in a rapist's repentance. Two things I would caution you against, though, are making it seem as though the victim "ought" to forgive the rapist to the point of starting a relationship (you're going to have trouble explaining why she would want to do something like this, besides Stockholm Syndrome), and making it seem ...


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 ...


4

To add a little to Scarlett's answer (which is excellent BTW): Happy endings are far more prevalent than tragic ones because they're easier to pull off badly. In order to understand how an ending should be executed it is necessary to understand a little about endings. It cannot have escaped your attention that in many happy endings a male and female ...


4

It seems to me that highly non-linear plots are rather different than simultaneous sub-plots, so I think I will address them separately. Simultaneous Plots When I do longer work, I usually have multiple sub-plots running. I never write one sub-plot all the way through. I always go back and forth, usually switching every chapter. This question actually ...



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