5 neat things I want to include in my stories

And I mean to include them regardless of how, when or why. ‘Cause they’re that cool. I bet you have some of these too, no?

1. The accidental death of an important character

Why accidental? Because the heroic sacrifice of that character in the end of a story is more or less trite, and has to be predictable in retrospective. It must serve a purpose.

But an accident? The death of an important character by accident, in the worst possible moment, serving no calculated plotting purpose, having no redeemable qualities such as the facilitation of a certain move by the protagonist (like finally getting his hands dirty killing the bad guy in a tear-jerking gesture of vengeance)—now that’s a true moment of despair. Accidents like that happen all the time in real life. I believe everything in fiction must serve a purpose, yet the “accidental death of a character” only serves to show the harshness of life, maybe reveal how the protagonist feels when he’s otherwise caught in acting, or maybe it just piles another senseless catastrophe on top of all the others, completing the picture of the protagonist’s world. Sometimes these moments, these glimpses of tragedy popping up aside from the main plot thread like cynical comments, can really enrich a story.

2. An awkward sex scene

Who doesn’t want to read one of these? Preferably between two characters who take each other, themselves or their sexual encounter very seriously, and whose interactions will be severely affected by the awkwardness afterward. Awkward for the sake of momentary fun doesn’t cut it. I want a scene to embarrass both characters AND the reader. Why? Because–ha-ha, awkward sex. *snickers*

3. A covert bad guy

Not an undercover bad guy, but a bad guy who doesn’t even know he’s a bad guy. A character who’s driven by circumstances to do increasingly evil things, until he crosses a line he cannot cross back. It’s a surprise to him too, but things cannot be stopped anymore. And no one sees it happening until it’s too late.

I’ve done this in my current WIP, though in the wee hours of the night I worry I might not have done it effectively enough. But maybe that’s just my endless quality-paranoia.

4. A badass epilogue

I’m not a fan of prologues (Just get on with the story, alright?!) but epilogues can be a real treat, especially if it’s hard for the reader to part with her beloved characters or a compelling world. An epilogue which by itself alone adds an extra layer of meaning to the entire novel it appends is an even better treat.

5. A moment of bittersweet poetic justice

Preferably one where the protagonist is not the center of attention, because that’s been overdone to excess too, especially in movies. Poetic justice by happenstance, by a minor character who’s actions finally fall into their place, by a remark made at the most precise moment… just a sweet moment that the readers will forever remember.

How about you? Got any special things you’ve always wanted to write about? Have you, or do you still plan to?

12 Replies to “5 neat things I want to include in my stories”

  1. I love the idea of the covert evil guy. In the real world, egos distort self-perception. As Dale Carnegie once noted, the cruelest murder has a tender but misunderstood heart, at least as far as he’s concerned. Thankfully, the justice system is blind to such pretense.

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  2. Just published my sixth in a series that starts out with an accidental death of a main character from the earlier part of the series. Comet debris does qualify as accidental, right???

    I wanted the reader to have that “Oh no!” gasp moment.
    I’ve got awkward sex covered also…easy for me to write.
    The others sound really intriguing.
    Thanks for the ideas.

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    1. That’s exactly what I meant, Sheron, the “Oh, no! WHY?!” moment that shakes the reader up, and puts him on constant alert. Readers rely on the author to keep every major character alive and give them a happy ending. An abrupt, almost senseless death reminds them that nothing is inherently safe. Not even in fiction.

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  3. The accidental death of an important character who’s revealed a covert bad guy during an awkward sex scene amidst a badass epilogue as a moment of bittersweet poetic justice? I’d read that.

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  4. I think the evil bad guy who doesn’t even realize his true nature offers the most intriguing possibility. No one wants to believe they’re evil (with the possible acceptation of your Doctor Evil types). The reluctant bad guy is so much more human. He may even get a little sympathy from the reader for his plight. Thanks for the thought provoking ideas.

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