June 2022's Writer Support Thread

Hi agarriberri –

A character’s motivation in my narratives is multilayered. I usually have one motivation that unifies all the others together.

It seems that you have chosen “moving on” from incident “x” as your overall arching motivation.

Let’s work with that.

You identified “overcoming trauma” as a layer of moving on… so how would your MC overcome the trauma of incident x?

Typically, this is where choice would come into play.

Some of your readers may desire to have the MC save a particular npc … perhaps one of those involved in the current murders has something in common with someone involved with incident x?

Other readers may wish to concentrate in having the npc solve the murders. What happened in incident x is prevented from happening once again, and by preventing history from repeating itself the MC is allowed to move on from the past.

Finally, maybe your readers love angst and pain, so some of them may never want the MC to overcome their trauma. Does this mean, they fail to solve the current murders? Or perhaps they fail to save the one innocent person involved in the new murders? And what happens when they can’t move on? Does the MC become a broken drunk? Or maybe something else?

Also – using cliches or tropes is sometimes ok … as long as you execute using them well.


Thanks for your perspective as well. It’s not actually an interactive novel. Frankly, I doubt another pair of eyes will ever see them. However, I need to put this and other stories into the real world for the sake of my sanity, because they just refuse to leave me alone.


I have another question and apologies for spamming, but I forgot to ask about it. How much world-building you guys do? I believe Sanderson recommended that our world-building ‘icebergs’ be ‘hollow’, i.e. deep enough that if the reader looks under the sea, they see the iceberg extending enough into the shadows to be satisfied, however it’s only deep enough to hint at the possibility of something bigger, without overwhelming the author into doing what Tolkien did, since the vast majority of us are not linguists with two free decades of time to world-build. While this story I referenced above doesn’t need much world-building, the other ones I’m writing need it.

1 Like

I identify the details that are important to the story, then build from there. If the story involves a priesthood, for example, I figure what about that priesthood the reader needs to know.

1 Like

How do you deal with technological stasis in a fantasy work? For example, The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire and The Elder Scrolls have centuries and, sometimes, thousands of years where no noticeable technological advance happens. How do you explain that? Or it’s better to just wave it away.


Explain what is important to your story and do not touch other things. in one of my games, a fountain pen is invented, so the MC picks up the fountain pen and how it works is described. On the other hand, other inventions, like a typewriter is never mentioned in my game, because it is never a detail needed to know about.


If there’s a path where the transfer is done unwillingly, you have a bonus motivation: if they do well, they hope to be transferred back to the big city.

That’s because, contrary to popular opinion, TES doesn’t have good worldbuilding. In the case of TLotR, it’s because Tolkien was both a zealous monarchist (and the true king is not on the throne, so there’s no real progress that can be made) AND opposed to technological advances (which is why there’s so much focus on the heroes’ link to nature - the hobbits are a simple agricultural people, the elves and the rangers are in tune with nature, Tom Bombadil is the bestest ever - while everything connected to technology is either bad or corruptible - the dwarves are greedy, Saruman is literally described as having “a mind of gears”, the orcs are, well, the orcs).


Interesting. I didn’t know Tolkien was a monarchist. Makes sense that he would apply his world vision to the books. It’s a bit jarring those fantasy settings where everything is in stasis. Most of the time it’s waved away by ‘magic’, but I appreciate when works try to at least explain why the stasis is in place. Is magic so handy most people don’t have an incentive to innovate? Is some kind of group, lawful or not, repressing technological discoveries? Is there a cyclical apocalyptic event that wipes out any progress every few X years?

The last one is the most logical, since before the printing press, periods of advances and regression were common in history, more often than not when a civilization collapsed.


Note that magic-users tend (TEND) to be the smartest people in a setting, which would also be the people more apt to innovate. And they generally won’t, because they got magic.


I’m at the stage where I’m trying to figure out some sort of a flowchart for the player character’s alliances throughout the story. The deeper I try to get into this the more confused I get. I can do one backstabbing, but I can’t wrap my mind around the narrative flow of possibly doing two backstabbings in a row (first betray A to overtly “help” B, meanwhile actually secretly betraying B to help C, all at the same time?). Never mind the coding.

Now that I think about it, nor am I sure the player character has that kind social clout in-universe to betray major powers openly like that and then carry on as usual…

1 Like

Hm, that remind me of Jade Empire (video game), where you kinda get something like that to do. I’m gonna make it vague as much as possible if you never played it, while tell you what is what…

Anyway, you become apprentice to master A who has a master of his own called B. so master A want you to kill master B and make it look like an accident. When you are ready to kill master B, the game give you a hint you could kill A while you are at it and make it also look like an accident. Which you can do.

So yeah, it can be done. And this one way it can be done. You can also do it in the form of ‘Flashback’ or something.

I suggest you just give yourself time, I usually get stuck like that and it only take some time. You can take a breather and rest your head, and it will come to you. Or skip this and keep going until you get something…

If you need an example? lol here is one:

A: MC, help me get rid of B! Come on, then I can date C!
MC: Okie Dokie!

MC walk to B and tap him on the shoulder

B: What? Don’t you see I’m busy peeing while standing on the edge of a cliff?
MC: Yeah about that…I think you peed on a flie!
B: Frown Really?! where?!
MC: Point Look down!
B: Ohhhhh???
MC: Push B over the cliff
B: Goes dead

A: Woohoo! You did it! Now the way to C heart and Panties is Open!
MC: Btw is that your phone on B body?
A: What?! That jerk! Thats the last IPHONE TOO! Damnit! MC, go get some rope! I wait here!
MC: Get rope Here you go, go get it and I pull you up!
A: :+1:
MC: Cut rope
A: Traitooooooooooooooruurghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

C come rushing in
C: What happen? Where is A and B?
MC: Alas my dear lady, they saw fit to fist fight near a treacherous cliff and they end up both falling to their deaths. I did my best to stop them but alas they wouldn’t listen to reason… :pensive:
C: So sad but who will I marry now?
MC: I will! :smirk:
C: Ohh Oreo! You are mah Savior! :heart_eyes:

The End


Technological “stasis” has been the cultural default in many societies until strikingly recently. People often consider imperial Rome to be “advanced” for its time, for instance, but what’s striking about it from a modern perspective is how little “progress” was made. There’s not a huge amount of difference between Roman technology in 200 BC and Roman technology in AD 500. Roman culture valued some forms of intellectual activity, but never particularly linked them to “invention” or developing new technologies. Ultimately because they didn’t need to: they had an economy which was overwhelmingly agrarian at its base, and agricultural exploitation by enslaved workforces and tenant farmers was (except in times of war or natural disasters) sufficient to feed the cities of the empire. So why would the elite types who dominated intellectual culture at that time feel the need to invest energy in making things easier for the lowly workers of the land? At any rate, they never did.

The modern cult of progress and invention only really got going a couple of hundred years ago, as a result of the abolition of slavery and serfdom, and changes in demographics (above all the massive expansion of urban populations coupled with decreases in child mortality through medical advances). This created a need for more efficient and less labour-intensive forms of agriculture, as well as technology to enable and facilitate urban living on a previously unimagined scale. So if you’re writing a medieval-type fantasy world, you don’t really need to explain “technological stasis”. If a civilization has developed robust enough agricultural and economic systems to be able to feed itself, there’s no need for “progress” and in all likelihood stasis is what you’ll find.

A civilization is ultimately just a system to enable lots of people to live together in a way that makes sense to them. If your fictional society can manage that, it’s doing its job as a civilization, no further “progress” is needed, and you certainly don’t need to explain why they haven’t invented hoverboards yet.


Interesting. Thanks for your perspective. You mentioned Rome with your 200 year example for technological stasis, however in The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire, for example, it’s thousands of years of stasis, which is not logical. Let’s take the military, for example. The military transitioned from the legionaries to the comitatenses. And that was in just 2 centuries. In those fantasy books, nothing changes. Kingdoms and empires rise and fall, cultures are wiped out, legendary heroes go on grand adventures, but no major technological invention happens.


The difference between 200 BC and AD 500 is seven hundred years. That’s the difference between now and 1320! And in all that time, there was no “great leap forward” comparable to the difference that we see between 1320 and today. (There were, of course, some developments in military technology, but the really big changes to the army tended to be more on the organizational rather than technological level in this period, and such changes as there were tended to be much less drastic than what we’re used to when we talk about progress).

I’ve never personally been too troubled by long periods of “stasis” in fantasy universes. I take it as pretty typical for pre-modern societies. And I don’t think it would bother your readers too much either.


Wow. Can’t believe I missed that. My eyes just ignored the BC/AD. But what you said is something to think about. Most of the readers won’t notice these issues if the characters and plot are tight, but there’s always ‘that guy’ who does (me, usually, when reading fantasy), and I want him to know I acknowledge him with logical world-building.


It’s political, no killing. If the player character openly betray a party, which is made up of very powerful people–all of them hereditary nobility and/or filthy rich landowners–they now hate him. On the other hand, if he secretly pulls shenanigans until he rise enough to be untouchable…

I’ve been trying to draw a flowchart for the past few hours and just end getting tangled up. Too many variables, I think. The presence of a Stuart has been nothing but a massive destabilising factor since he was added in, but I also want a third option. Agh


you said ‘Backstabbing’…so that could be anything lol

Hm, well if it’s political? than you can use the old recipe of using fake evidences and incriminating A and B. Then make it a vote or something, a Noble house can lose land, or lose titles?

Yeah, take a break though. And sleep on it, and start fresh again.


IIRC, another example of technological stasis is ancient Egypt, which stayed at pretty much the same technology levels for thousands of years.

Hers part of how I see it, tbh. If you don’t have a large supply of easily accessible fuel, you’re probably not going to have that big ‘tech tree explosion’ period. Practically speaking, this means coal, because you can mine it with 100% hand tools. No coal? Good luck fueling a steam engine, so no trains. No trains means your infrastructure building is way more difficult.

You’d have to jump straight to hydroelectric for power, which is possible(the first power plants were hydro), but reliant on permissive geography, and you’d be doing it without steam shovels and with having to haul everything by horse-drawn wagon. Possible, yeah, but much harder.

Basically, if you want to believably freeze a society’s technology in the pre-electrical area, don’t give them easy access to a fossil fuel.


It’s really nice to have a support group like this where you can ask for anything related to writing and receive answers.


Did you complete character sheets for your npc characters?

If so, have you identified their motivations behind their actions?

Also, adding vices for npc characters can help you connect them… perhaps one character is a drug addict, and another is her drug dealer, but they also share a wedlock son.

Sometimes the more a npc is in the shadows and away from the spotlight, the more influence they have over their famous counterparts.