Plot Devices-Deus Ex Machina?
Deus Ex Machina or Chekhov's Gun?
"What are your thoughts on Good Deus Ex Machinas? I find them hard to pull off realistically in a plot." -- Puzzled Writer
A Deus Ex Machina is when the Hero doesn't find the solution to the story's problem. The solution is handed to them, or taken care of, by someone or something far more powerful.
From TV Tropes:
A Deus Ex Machina is an outside force that solves a seemingly unsolvable problem in an extremely unlikely (and, usually, anticlimactic) way. If the secret documents are in Russian, one of the spies suddenly reveals that they learned the language. If the writers have just lost funding, a millionaire suddenly arrives, announces an interest in their movie, and offers all the finances they need to make it. If The Hero is dangling at the edge of a cliff with a villain stepping on his
High Speed STORIESHigh Speed STORIES5 years ago in Writing More Like This
When you absolutely, positively, HAVE to get the story done.
The trick to speed-writing is to Plan the story out first, more commonly known as PLOTTING.
"Diabolic" was written in 30 days -- all 15 chapters at 2500 to 3000 words per chapter, adding up to around 80k (thousand) words. A novel is 90k to 100k. I was able to do this because I already knew my main characters really well, (Vincent and Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII,) and I knew where my story ENDED. Basically, once I knew where I wanted to go, all I had to do was figure out how to get there.
Note: If you're interested, DIABOLIC can be found at Media Miner. The 'Search' feature is your friend!
The plot outline I used only had 5 points:
1. Beginning - The Main Character gets involved with the Villain or Lover.
2. Complications - The situation worsens.
3. Emotional Turning Point - Panic Attack! Fear and/or Guilt vs. Desperation
4. Reversal - The wor
The Wasteland AKA the MIDDLEThe Wasteland AKA the MIDDLE5 years ago in Writing More Like This
The Trackless Wasteland known as: The MIDDLE
The middle (of a story) KILLS me. I freeze when I have to decide which way things are going to go, and how, and that happens during the middle for me.
Middle, middle, middle... It's the Slough of Despond!
The Middle is where I usually fizzle out.
The middle is DANGEROUS territory.
Why? Because the Middle of a story is where you have a million-and-one options, a million-and-one directions to choose from, and a million-and-one ways to really show off your writing skills.
The Middle is also, where you have a million-and-one opportunities to really screw up your story for good. Opportunities that will send you spiraling into ever tightening circles that eventually jam you into a corner you can't get out of. In short: get you Lost in your own story.
You KNOW yo
Plotting-Murphy's Law MethodPlotting-Murphy's Law Method5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Plotting Tricks: The Murphy's Law Method
"What Can go Wrong SHOULD go Wrong."
If you want an easy way to plot out a story that your readers can't guess the end to by the fourth chapter, then THIS is the method for you!
Basically, you begin with a character and something they desire. They go after their desire which immediately sparks complications which become a Problem that your character has to solve.
Once the character applies their chosen Solution to their Problem, Murphy's Law kicks in. The Solution triggers yet another problem.
This pattern continues--Problem > Solution > Problem--so on and so forth until All the problems are solved and your character either reaches their goal, or achieves an even better one--or dies.
This method is extremely effective when plotting out Adventure stories of any kind. In fact, Van Helsing, National Treasure, Inkheart, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, the James Bond movies, most RP video games,
Interior MonologuesInterior Monologues5 years ago in Writing More Like This
"I was just wondering what you think about interior monologues, long passages of reflection?" -- Curious Kitty
A note on:
-- Interior Monologues
Whether you are considering adding a lengthy monologue to a story, or intend the monologue to be the story itself where the focus of the entire story is on one character's thoughts and feelings with very little action -- from my observations and experimentation, the readers either love them or hate them. There's no in-between.
However, it is notable that the internal monologue stories that are sought out most frequently tend to focus on a profound emotion of some kind: grief, loneliness, heartache... Usually by either those seeking to deal with such an emotion, as a kind of therapy, or by those that have never felt such emotions. (Strong emotional stories are extremely popular among young adults.)
In both cases, not only does the reader seek to submerge the
An Unkindness of COMMASAn Unkindness of COMMAS5 years ago in Writing More Like This
I SUCK at commas big-time. I tend to pull a "Mark Twain"; I sprinkle them in wherever to break up the monotony of the sentence. This article is my attempt to hammer the rules into my brain.
An Unkindness of COMMAS
What the heck are Commas for, anyway?
Besides abusing the sanity of the writer, the comma exists to help readers organize information in a sentence. It makes all the stuff the author is trying to say easier to swallow. Without them, sentence bits and pieces collide into one another causing confusion; rather like a train-wreck, though not nearly as exciting.
Just in case you'd like to know who made up all these comma rules, I got most of them from Strunk & White's "Elements of Style" the grammar handbook used by every publishing house in America, and a few overseas. The rest came from my editors.
To get a good idea of how commas work, let's take a look at what they are supposed to do -- and some major
Essentials of a Short StoryEssentials of a Short Story5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Essentials of a Short Story
Quotes raped from a critique of Nathanial Hawthorn's Twice Told Tales by
Edgar Allen Poe - 1837
Edgar Allen Poe, celebrated as one of the finest short fiction writers of all time, was also a literary critic. These are bits of his wisdom on writing short stories, gleaned from one of his critiques.
"The true critic will but demand that that the (story's) design intended be accomplished, to the fullest extent, by the means most advantageously applicable " -- Poe
Poe's Prerequisites -- in a Nutshell:
To deliver fullest satisfaction, a short story should be structured:
1) To be read in one sitting.
2) Using a deliberate number of characters and incidents.
3) With words restrained in style and tone.
4) All done that should be done, with nothing done which should not be.
Poe's Prerequisites -- in DETAIL
A short story should be structured:
1) To be rea
The LAYERS of FictionThe LAYERS of Fiction5 years ago in Writing More Like This
"If you have Action and Dialogue, do you really NEED Description too?
What is the difference?"
The Layers of Fiction
"Himawari-chan, I have your lunch!"
"Here you go Himawari-chan!"
"Thank you, Watanuki-kun!"
"You are very welcome, Himawari-chan."
"I see. Of course. Thank you, Yuuko-san. Do I need to tell you what she said?"
"No! No, you don't, and I don't want to hear it! I don't need a freaking baby-sitter!"
"Yuuko thinks you do."
"That's her! Not me!"
"Are you a fortune-teller?"
"No! Of course not!"
"I'll come get you after class. I'll get the instructor to let you wait while I practice."
"What? No! I said I don't want to wait !"
"You gonna eat that?"
"Yes I am!"
"I do not, not, NOT take orders from you!"
This is "Talking Head Syndrome." There are no dialogue tags, because I don't use them.
Fishing for INSPIRATION?Fishing for INSPIRATION?5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Fishing for INSPIRATION?
Your imagination is a pond that you fish your ideas from. Like any fishing pond, what you catch depends on what you've stocked your pond with and how much you put in there. If you fish for only the occasional idea, your little ideas have time to breed creatively until they overflow the pond, leaping right out into your hand -- and onto your keyboard. If you fish a lot, you will have to restock -- Frequently.
A Dry Pond = Writer's Block
What's in YOUR Imagination?
What do you KNOW?
What do you love to Do, to Study, to Think About, to Talk About...? Make a list of all the things you know well and all the things you've done -- seriously! Mythology, history, any retail jobs you might have had -- anything you might have seen, done, or studied.
WHO do you KNOW?
Have you ever met...?
A real Criminal?
A real Hero?
A real Romantic?
Advanced Plotting-The PREMISEAdvanced Plotting-The PREMISE5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Advanced Plotting ~ the PREMISE
Could you tell me more on plotting story points? I can get the big story idea well enough, but I run into a snag deciding the whole causality thing -- A leads to B, leads to C, etc."
-- Mad about Plotting
Ah, so you wanna know how to put all the theories together to make a story, do you? (Gee, you couldn't pick the easy stuff could you?) Okay...
A story's Causes & Effects, the triggers that lead from one event to the next, comes from your Premise.
Just for the record...
A Premise is NOT a Concept!
The Premise is the theoretical / emotional problem that your story is trying to illustrate and answer. It's the glue that holds the whole thing together. It's the Purpose of your story.
A Concept is HOW you intend to illustrate that Premise, it's the story you wrap around it.
Example: The 'Matrix':
Premise: Knowledge vs. Ig
Structure of the GOTHIC TaleStructure of the GOTHIC Tale5 years ago in Writing More Like This
What is the difference between a Gothic tale and a Horror story? Intent. Seriously.
Both Horror stories and Gothic tales delve into the realm of emotional trauma such as revenge, abuse, and hate--including, if not especially, sexual trauma. However, the darkness in a Gothic tale is not expressed or defined by graphically detailed, and gruesome, violence as it is in a Horror. Though violence is often featured in the Gothic, it is NOT the main focus of the story. The drama of Despair is the vehicle of the Gothic where a Horror story is driven by the action of Violence.
In a nutshell...
Horror = Action story
Gothic = Drama Story
While both Gothics and Horror are tales of the spiritual and/or psychological reality of the human psyche, Horror stories deal with the monsters that can lurk within our friends and neighbors. Gothics, however, deal with the monsters within ourselves; the hidden, self-destructive side that we don't wan
RESEARCH is your Best FriendRESEARCH is your Best Friend5 years ago in Writing More Like This
RESEARCH is your Best Friend.
"...for bigger fictions (maybe 10-20 chapters, or more) for a big fan fiction or OC fiction, how much do you plan out?" -- Wanna Rite Reel Gud
How much do I plan out for one of my novels...?
-- I detail everything. Seriously. I believe in a Total Immersion style of writing. In other words, I want to know the world so well, I can simply step into the mind and skin of my main character and LIVE the story.
How do I do that...?
I start with a basic plot formula and extrapolate on certain points as needed.
Romance needs extra doses of lover's angst, Gothics need psychological breakdowns, Horrors need room for monster attacks, Sci-Fi's and Fantasies need moments of wonder... This gives me a rough plot outline to work from.
Next, I break down each of the Three Main Characters: Hero/Ally/Villain.
This is to make sure that they a
Sentence Structure for FICTIONSentence Structure for FICTION5 years ago in Writing More Like This
On Basic Sentence Structure for Fiction
(Grammar Nazis BEWARE!)
Everything I ever learned about writing Fiction DIDN'T come from school; not even college. In fact, the way one writes fiction is almost the complete opposite of everything I learned in school about writing.
In order to make my stories crystal clear in my readers' imaginations, I write in precise Chronological Order, in the order events actually happen, PLUS in the order that the eye sees it.
Case in point, when describing a character, I describe them from top to bottom, in the order that the eye notices them. Face, hair, upper body, arms, hands, then lower body, legs, feet, then over all impression.
The Secret to Proper ParagraphingThe Secret to Proper Paragraphing5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Once you know what your characters and doing and saying, how do you get all that down on Paper without ending up with a huge confusing mess?
Putting the Story on Paper.
Everybody knows that when a new speaker speaks they get a new paragraph, right? In other words, you DON'T put two different people talking in the same paragraph. Okay, yeah, so anyone who has written any kind of fiction learns this pretty darned quick, (usually from their readers.)
What nobody seems to get is that the same goes for a new character's ACTIONS. Seriously, when a new character ACTS they're supposed to get their own paragraph -- even if they don't speak!
In short, you paragraph by change in CHARACTER -- not because they speak, but because they ACT. Ahem... Dialogue is an ACTION. In other words, the reason you don't put two different characters' Dialogue in the same paragraph is BECAUSE you don't mix two characters' Actions. Okay?
"Wait a minute,
STUCK on a Short Story?STUCK on a Short Story?5 years ago in Writing More Like This
10 Second Tip:
Stuck on a SHORT Story?
Stuck on what to put in your story?
-- This is the list of things I check off when I create a story:
Do you have a Setting in mind?
- Modern day
Do you have ONE big main event for the story to focus on?
- A battle
- An escape
- A love scene
- An act of revenge
- A sacrifice
- A treasure to claim
- A magic spell
- A transformation
Do you know what you want to SAY with your story?
- Love sucks.
- Friendship is forever.
- No good deed goes unpunished.
- A snake can only ever be a snake.
- Sometimes you have to take chances.
- Magic makes things worse, not better.
Do you know where you want to END your story?
- A wedding?
- A funeral?
- A bloody battlefield?
- An empty street?
- The bottom of an ocean?
Do you have your three central characters ready?
-- Just to make things interesting, any one of t
My Beta-Readers QuestionnaireMy Beta-Readers Questionnaire5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Anyone who writes with the intent to be read by the public, from the brand-name published authors to the fan-fiction scribbler, will tell you that a good Beta Reader is worth their weight in GOLD.
So, what is a Beta Reader really FOR?
Most Beta Readers look for obvious grammar boo-boos and glaring spelling errors, but the really good ones look at your story as a whole and tell you where your strengths and weaknesses are so you can adjust them.
These are what I ask MY Beta readers to check.
-- Whether you're a Writer looking to check your work or a Beta Reader who wants to point out a few things to your favorite writer, feel free to borrow, spindle, and mutilate this list of questions to your heart's desire.
MY Beta-Reader's Questionnaire
Is it BORING?
- Does any part of the story Drag?
- Are their parts that you skipped to get to 'the good part'?
- Do I over-inform anywhere? (Also known as Info-Dumping.)
Did you G
HOW do you make THE END?HOW do you make THE END?5 years ago in Writing More Like This
"When will you make an end?"
- The Pope on the painting of the Sistine Chapel
"When I'm finished."
Okay, so you got this GREAT Idea for a story!
- This Great Idea...that births chapter after chaper...
- This Great Idea... that you can't seem to finish. (WTF?)
So what do you do now?
HOW do you make an End?
Fairytales and Myths were my foundational reading, so they became my base model for how a story should finish -- by ending where you began with a solution.
This doesn't mean ending a story in the location it started, or that full irrevocable transformations don't happen, but that the story ties the knot to the Emotional or Karmic place they began. -- The lost find their way, the wicked are punished, the weak become strong, monsters are faced, emotional hang-ups are dealt with, and problems are solved. What is begun - finishes.
-- Stories aren't just about characters Doing stuff, it's about cha
10 Second Tip - Foreshadowing10 Second Tip - Foreshadowing4 years ago in Writing More Like This
I hear the term 'foreshadowing' a lot. That's when you hint at stuff to come, right? So yeah, but how do I DO it?
Foreshadowing is when the opening scene of a story is a kind of nutshell prophecy for the whole story.
* In a Horror, this is when the originating Bad Thing happens.
* In a Mystery or Crime story, it's when the first victim is slain, and/or object (McGuffin) goes missing.
* In a Romance this is where the main character meets their soon-to-be lover for a fleeting but memorable moment.
* In a Sci-fi, this is where the ruling Theory is presented.
* In a Gothic, this is where the main character transforms into a monster for the first time.
This also reveals the Premise, or ruling argument that the story is trying to illustrate; what the story is trying to Prove.
The results of Revenge
The path of Ambition
The reality of Love
The sacrifices one mak
The Subtle STATIC TRAITThe Subtle STATIC TRAIT4 years ago in Writing More Like This
The Subtle STATIC TRAIT
Secret Weapon of the Clever Writer
The Static Trait is the small personal HABIT an individual character displays which reveals their personal Neurosis, their driving NEED, especially in stressful situations. This habitual or even ritual behavior acts as both their greatest source of trouble and the linchpin to their success. It's the individual character's "Accident Waiting to Happen".
The most obvious place to find visible Static Traits is in both Comedies and Tragedies. These stories (and movies) RELY on their characters' Static Traits to linchpin the plot.
What made Laurel and Hardy so funny, were the little neurotic habits -- the static traits -- that would appear under stressful situations. Abbot and Costello built whole routines on Bud Abbot's little twitchy responses. The climactic scene in every one of their movies involved Abbot in a panic attack. You spent half the movie going "Oh no! Don't! Don't! Don't!...AH! He did
ACTION Sequences - Plug+PlayACTION Sequences - Plug+Play5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Writing ACTION Sequences
The Plug & Play Method
Lets begin with a Review...
The flash of pain exploded in my cheek from the slap her hand lashed out at me.
Why is this wrong?
If you were watching this scene as a movie, that sentence is NOT how you would have seen it happen.
Actual Sequence of events:
1) Her hand lashed out at me in a slap.
2) A flash of pain exploded in my cheek
ACTION Sequences = Chronological Order
REALITY = something happens to you and then you react.
Action > Reaction > Action > Reaction = Chronological order
FICTION = the Plot happens to the characters and then they react.
Action > Reaction > Action > Reaction = Chronological order
If you want the reader to SEE the actions that you are trying to portray, Chronological Order is the ONLY way to write that scene. In other words, if you visualize the characters doing something in a specific
INTERNAL CONFLICTINTERNAL CONFLICT5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Note: this is how the professional authors do it. That doesn't mean YOU have to. As with all advice, take what you can use and throw out the rest.
His lips drifted across hers in a warm caress. His hand pressed at waist, the heat of his palm warming her flesh through her corset underlying the deep blood silk gown. His fingers drifted upward, toward her breast.
Desire pulsed within her core, in time with her heart. She wanted to let him tear the red silk from her body, and bury himself in her flesh, but set her palm over his to stop him just below her breast. He was a vampire and she, a mere mortal. The fear in her soul told her to stop, and yet her body begged for his mouth on her flesh. I am overcome, overcome by a desire I know only he can satisfy... He fired her blood more than any other man.
She turned away from his kiss. "Please, I can't."
His gaze narrowed, then he smiled. "
Writing DESCRIPTIONWriting DESCRIPTION5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Tricks for Writing DESCRIPTION
------------- Original Message -----------
"I think the biggest problem I have is lack of detail. I can see things in my head, but other than the general surroundings, I'm always too intent on what my characters are thinking, or doing, or about to do to remember to add the details necessary to paint a really clear picture of where they are and their environment." -- Wanna Rite Reel Gud
The way to deal with that is by writing what you can. When you're done, go back and put in all the rest. Also, in situations like this, a beta-reader is your best bet at seeing where you skipped something.
As for What to describe and How Much to describe
Getting the IMAGE on Paper
Avoid Simple Nouns:
- Use a Specific Noun rather than a simple and vague noun to automatically pop in description.
Instead of: the door, the car, the tree, the house, the sword, the robe, the hat...
Write: the French doors, the
Your Character TOO Special?Your Character TOO Special?5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Is your Special Character
Are you indulging in a few too many "special traits"? Is your story really an excuse to show off your Super Special Character? Are you committing a MARY-SUE/GARY STUE?
--> Dead give-away: Your favorite character is YOU only BETTER!
Who is Mary Sue/Gary Stue?
According to SubReality.com:
"Mary Sue / Gary Stue is any original or deeply altered character who represents a slice of their creator's own ego; they are treasured by their creator but only rarely by anyone else. A Mary Sue/Gary Stue is a primadonna (usually, but not always badly-written,) who saps life and realism out of every other character around, taking over the plot and bending canon to serve their selfish purposes."
-- For more details:
The Mary Sue/Gary Stue "Self-Insertion" in Manga Fan-fiction:
According to A
Pesky Point of ViewPesky Point of View5 years ago in Writing More Like This
DISCLAIMER: Before anyone starts screaming about this article not emphasizing the Creative aspect of writing, please understand that this information was hammered into my head by my editors. This is what I had to learn to see my work published.
That doesn't mean you have to follow it! As with all advice, feel free to take what you can use and throw out the rest.
Pesky Point of View
What is Point of View (POV)?
-- It's the view of the person telling the story.
First Person: I am telling the story.
Second Person. I am telling the story to YOU. (Diaries and letters are commonly written this way.)
Third Person: He is telling the story.
Close Third Person: He had no clue how he got roped into telling this story, but he was telling it, and by god, they better listen up!
Omniscient Distant POV: The camera's eye view. (No internal narration what so ever. You only know what the camera sees. This is the POV u
Writing ANGSTWriting ANGST5 years ago in Writing More Like This
One way to add excitement to your story is by adding lots of bad-guys, also known as EXTERNAL Conflict. Another way is by adding INTERNAL Conflict, more commonly known as Angst.
I'm sure most of you have noticed by now that most movie characters, and far too many book characters, are One-Dimensional. They do stuff, but they don't face any personality issues: a hang-up, a fear, paranoia, a moral code, a love interest, a strong dislike Or worse, they do have all these things, but they never really affect the story.
There's a Plot Arc, things happen, but no Character Arc. The things that happen don't affect the characters emotionally.
Where's the ANGST?
Answer these two questions:
1. What is your character's biggest character flaw?
(Think: 7 Deadly Sins.)