To all the writers who have ever felt lost, alone, and completely confused during the labyrinthine journey that is writing anything, and felt like screaming this at your story …
There’s a light at the end of that darn tunnel. First, let me describe how I used to fight my way out of these periods of confusion and hopelessness.
Usually, I would try to force myself to get back into the groove of the story. I would reread it, and be yelling at myself in my head, “Remember why you love it! LOVE your book again! Keep reading and FALL IN LOVE, damn it!” I’d go over descriptions, bits of dialogue, banter between the characters. I’d go over settings and imagery, and try to make myself remember how much they’d once excited me. I’d read things that had made me laugh when I typed them, sentences that I was particularly proud of, paragraphs that made me feel particularly clever. But the thing was, it didn’t work.
I didn’t care.
What was the problem? The problem was some of those descriptions, settings, images, and witty episodes of bantering had no Story Reason to be there. They were just there because they amused me. Just because I found the imagery beautiful. Just because I found a sentence or joke really clever and wanted to share my wit with the world. But the world didn’t care about my wit. Because the world (the people reading my book) knew subconsciously that there was no story to give that so-called witty sentence substance and meaning. I could create the most breath-taking images, I could make the most well-rounded living and breathing character, I could make a setting that you wanted to run away from home and live inside … and it didn’t matter. If the thing didn’t have a purpose for being there within the narrative, nobody cared. And I didn’t either.
So what is a Story Reason?
Everything in a story exists to support one of three things.
1. The A-story: The surface plot, the quest of the main character to achieve a specific tangible goal. What the story is about on the surface.
2. The B-Story: The love story, or relationship of the thing. Usually this relationship is instrumental in causing the third element, which is …
3. The Character Arc. The theme of the story, the purpose, the piece of truth the story seeks to prove to the main character and the audience.
If something in a story doesn’t contribute to the progress of these three, there’s no reason we should care about it. It has no point. Because in the end, all we care about is the story!
When it comes to scenes, story reason means continuity. It means the way the story unfolds logically. If every scene is there for a darn good reason, the scenes after and before will make total sense, they’ll connect seamlessly, a steady progression of events. Every scene’s turn triggers the next scene.
And to do this, every scene must be able to be linked with three words:Because of that.
Because of the turn of one scene …
The next scene happens.
And because of the turn of that scene the next scene happens.
To illustrate how this works, let’s look at a small movie you might have heard about called Zootopia. (Thanks to @inked-withlove for the movie suggestion!)
So let’s start at this point, the turn of the scene with Clawhauser and Judy searching the file on Emmitt Otterton.
Turn: “I have a lead."
Because of that …
Judy has to get Nick to tell her what he knows about Otterton.
Turn: It all goes poorly, and now Nick and Judy are stuck together by an incriminating adorable carrot recorder. (The B Story, the relationship, has intertwined with the A Story.)
Because of that …
Nick takes Judy to the place he saw Otterton go, a place he thinks will cause her to give up.
Turn: She doesn’t quit, she marches right in. (B Story: Nick sounds surprised, and a little impressed, that she didn’t back down.)
Because of that …
She has to question a rude yoga-performing elephant.
Turn: Though the elephant is absolutely no help, the seemingly addled yak is more than helpful – he even remembers the license plate number of the car Emmitt left in.
Because of that …
Nick thinks his part in this endeavor is complete. But Judy remembers that she’s not in the system yet, and thus can’t run a plate. Nick, however, can. And he’s going to, or else.
Turn: It just so happens that he has a pal at the DMV.
Because of that …
Sloths. He takes her to a DMV run by sloths and wastes as much of her precious dwindling time as he can.
Turn: “It’s night?!”
Because of that …
Legitimate Enterprise Car Service (at least that’s what it’s called in the screenplay) is closed. Judy doesn’t have a warrant and Nick is enjoying her suffering tremendously. After a spat, she tosses the carrot over the fence instead of handing it to him.
Turn: Because she has now seen a shifty low-life climbing the fence, she has probable cause, and doesn’t need a warrant. She can go in. (B Story: Nick is looking at her with more respect.)
Because of that …
They find the car and begin investigating. The car is a crime scene; claw marks everywhere, the missing otter’s wallet … and a cocktail glass etched with a "B”.
Turn: And it all adds up for Nick. This car belongs to Mr Big, a notorious crime boss. And his polar bear henchman are right outside. They grab Judy and Nick and yank them off screen.
Because of that …
Judy and Nick are wedged between the bear henchman, on their way to face Mr Big.
Turn: Nick sold him a very expensive rug that happened to be made from the fur of a skunk’s butt. Or in other words, Mr Big really doesn’t like Nick.
Because of that …
They wait fearfully for Mr Big to appear, and even when he’s revealed to be a tiny shrew, Nick still launches into obsequious and panicked mode. He tries talking his way out of it, but Mr Big really REALLY doesn’t like him. And when Judy shouts at him that she’s a cop and she has evidence on him –
Turn: “Ice ‘em.”
Because of that …
“No icing anyone at my wedding!” Fru Fru Shrew is not a happy camper. Father and daughter bicker about his promise of no murder on her wedding day, and the fact that “I have to, baby. Daddy has to.” Until –
Turn: “She’s the bunny who saved my life yesterday. From that giant doughnut!” Well, Judy is now in Mr Big’s good books. He’s going to pay her kindness forward. Nick is floored.
I’m gonna stop there.
SO! After going through that analysis of how the scenes are linked together, let’s abandon the “everything needs a story reason to be in there” rule, and see what happens.
After the scene where Judy and Nick reluctantly join forces, we could add a scene where Nick is trying to remember the name of the place, and where it is. Then we could have them asking around, searching the city, refusing to ask for directions, lots of banter. THEN we can finally get to The Mystic Springs Oasis.
And after they get the plate number, maybe Nick grabs the carrot pen and makes a run for it. Then we can have a chase scene, but he gets away. Then we can have Judy trying to run the plate on her own, before realizing she isn’t in the system, and failing. Then we can have a scene where she has to track down Nick again. Then a scene where she figures out how to blackmail him into it. THEN they finally get to the DMV.
And you know what would have happened then?
Zootopia would have made everyone bored.
All of these inserted scenes are unnecessary. Sure, they might add conflict, add complications to Judy’s quest, but they’re ultimately just filler. They’re just there for the sake of bulking out the story. This is why that tip I hear so often in writing circles always perplexes me: “Figure out the worst possible thing that can happen to your character, then do that.” If people went with this rule, they’d just keep throwing terrible things at the characters for no apparent reason, one after another, and the reader or audience would be expected to be entertained by it (but wouldn’t be). It would be like cartoons before Mickey Mouse came along and applied story to animation: before, cartoons were just gag after gag, slapstick situations mashed together like a funny video compilation. Except with books and movies, it would just be conflict-heavy situations strung together, taking an inordinate amount of time to make any actual progress.
Once you make sure everything has a purpose within the narrative, things get so much better. And I find, when I reread my work I don’t have to scream at myself to “love your book or else” if everything has a reason for being there. And instead of feeling like yelling at my story like an angry overworked crab, I feel a lot more like this gif.
Harry is single, and more than anything wants to find love. Agreeing to sign up to a dating website was a bad, bad idea. Niall’s bad, bad idea. Louis is single, but has no interest in relationships. Or so he tells himself.
Harry is a lawyer, his boss, Nick, happens to give him a bonus, which he decides to splurge on a new work wardrobe. Louis is a frustrated designer, working as a personal shopper at Selfridges. Louis happens to be working on the day a very beautiful, but out of his depth, new customer ambles into their department in need of advice. Louis might have just found the muse he never knew he was looking for.
Featuring: Sophia as Louis’ colleague, with a somewhat unhealthy obsession with his love life, whilst being oblivious when it comes to her own. Liam as the ‘IT bloke from downstairs’ with the mother of all crushes on Sophia, Niall as Harry’s sport’s writer flatmate, who spends most of his time making Harry’s life as complicated as possible, Zayn as Louis’ flatmate and lifelong best friend, whose cat, Noodle/Princess/Princess Noodle, loves Louis more than she loves him. And Nick as Harry’s boss and one of Louis’ regular customers: is Imelda Marcos reborn.
hiiii, here are a bunch of fics I’ve enjoyed and loved reading throughout the month of february. I recommend that you read these great fics in march, if you haven’t already. there are SO many good and unique AUs this round, so please check them out!!
(all fics with a star are my favorites and if there are two stars then it was a favorite favorite)
Harry is the world’s most persistent seduction-baker, a questionable dog-sitter, and Louis’s biggest fan. Louis hasn’t written in years, is trying to pass loneliness off as cynicism, and absolutely hates his fans. It’s probably destiny.
With seven years of blissful marriage behind them and four wonderfully unique kids to brag about, Harry and Louis seem to finally have life all figured out and under control. How much more real could it get?
Very real it turns out, when Harry reluctantly leaves home for a 5 day business trip leaving Louis to manage their rambunctious, hyperactive household. Do they really have it all under control or are they just faking it?
Featuring all the usual suspects, inside jokes, embarrassing moments and of course, Harry and Louis’ wild antics + the addition of their four equally wild and outrageous kids.
“You… you still have the dress form I got you for your eighteenth birthday? You’ve kept it for ten years, Harry?” Louis’ eyes flick around Harry’s studio. It’s big and modern, with floor to ceiling windows that help flood the room in bright sunlight, just like the lobby. However, he can’t stop staring at the faded, but present, heart surrounding the “H + L” written delicately in Louis’ handwriting in the center of the mannequin.
Louis is a songwriter who is nominated for a Grammy and he needs a suit. Fast. He seeks out help from a very popular, very mysterious designer who just so happens to be his ex-boyfriend.
I suck, I know. I’m late. This is ridiculously short.
(ok, it’s not short now, but it was before I added in some fics that are gathering dust in my inbox to be read. There’s more fics I haven’t read in this rec than the opposite. oops.)
The Morning After the Night Before (4K): Harry and Louis have more or less grown up together, even now as adults it’s tradition for their families to spend a few weeks in the summer at a beach house together. Problem One: Louis has been in love with Harry forever. Problem Two: It wont stop raining.
I Slam Therefore I Am (4K): Louis and Harry are both creative souls but they aren’t friends, not by a long shot. This is the Rival Slam Poets AU that no one asked for.
I Found A Love (4K): Or the one where Louis is a nerdy English major who may just run into his happily ever after while working his shift at the local library.
just the sound of your voice (6k): It’s just. Harry’s so fucking quiet during sex and now Louis’ obsession with it is…it’s incessant. Louis questions it day and night, the enigma of it buzzing around his head like an annoying mosquito — all of the reasons why he’s so quiet consuming every one of his waking thoughts. Like, maybe he turns into an alien during sex if he’s not really careful? So he has to concentrate so hard on not turning into another creature he’s effectively struck mute from it. Or maybe…maybe he’s like one of those people who’s into tantric sex, like Sting or a throwback from the 1960s? And when he’s about to orgasm he travels to another plane of existence or something.
Twelfth Night (6k): Queen Anne holds a masquerade ball to try and find matches for both her children on Twelfth Night. While anonymity reigns, Prince Harry spends the ball getting to know a handsome stranger.
‘Til I Tasted You (15K): Louis is Harry Styles’ biggest fan. It doesn’t matter that Harry is famous for being a food blogger and Louis can’t cook to save his life. At least, until Harry offers to give Louis a cooking lesson. Then it matters just a teensy bit.
Carried Away Like Butterflies (17K): It was probably a huge mistake for Louis to let his former One Night Stand move into his spare room, especially when said One Night Stand doesn’t seem to remember him.
Then We Talk Slow (20K): A famous/non-famous AU in which Louis banters back and forth with his new record company on Twitter, only to find out that Harry is the man behind the tweets.
Dance Like Warriors On A Battlefield (20K): Down in the arena, the triumphant gladiator places his foot on the back of the loser, holding him there as he waits for instruction on his next move. Kill or let live. It’s barbaric, really, the bloodlust involved in this sport. Louis is pretty sure that if it wasn’t for his distaste for the killing there would be a lot more blood soaking that sand. As it is, his father rarely gives the kill order anymore. He gives the order to let the loser live. Louis rolls his eyes, turning away. He doesn’t miss the way the gladiator’s eyes linger on him.
Like Candy In My Veins (31K): Basically the A/B/O, enemies to lovers, fake relationship, Christmas AU that nobody asked for.
All the Right Moves (32K): This is the third game in a row that Harry has been distracted by the noisy boy in the stands, five rows back. There’s really no reason that he should feel compelled to stare into the audience as frequently as he is, but he can’t help it. This boy is a nuisance. And he’s loud. Even from basketball court with nine other players running by him, shoes squeaking on the shiny hardwood floor, and thousands of cheering college students, Harry can hear this boy nearly shrieking, his laugh more like a cackle than anything.
The Reason Is You (37K): Louis is running out of time to find a summer job. His best friend offers him one that promises early mornings, late nights, long hours, and the best people he’ll ever meet. Lucky for Louis, one of those people is Harry Styles.
tangled up in you (45K): There’s still a big grin on his face, though, when he says, “I got you a professional cuddler.”
Safe and Sound (You’ll Always Be) (58K): When a failed case and a guilty conscience leaves Harry more than a little lost, his boss presents him with a new, less taxing assignment to help him cope. An escape from all the madness is just what Harry needs to get his life back on track. It’s just too bad his new client has a grin like the devil, a pair of electric eyes that Harry simply can’t get over, and no intention whatsoever of letting him catch a break.
Feels Like Coming Home (60K): The last thing Harry Styles expects when he’s hanging out at the Someday Cafe in Somerville one rainy October day is for his ex, Louis Tomlinson to walk through the door, but that’s exactly what happens. After a spectacularly ugly break-up three years prior, Harry hasn’t heard one word from Louis, and he’s moved on. Gotten over him. But having Louis back in his life, not to mention working at the restaurant where he’s a chef, isn’t easy, and the feelings that Harry thought he’d left turn out to be not so easily forgotten.
When We Were Younger (76K): Sixteen year old Harry Styles’ world turns upside down when he logs on to gay teen chat to discover somebody has stolen his photos and used them as their own.
Perfect Storm (80K): What do you do when your best friend asks you and your (now) ex to be the best men at his destination wedding? You can either tell him the truth, tell him you’re not together anymore, and deal with the consequences, or you can pretend you’re still together and roll with it, just pray you don’t spiral. Fake it ‘til you make it. You know, for the sake of the wedding. Harry and Louis choose the latter.
Dress you up in my love (103K): Harry is single, and more than anything wants to find love. Agreeing to sign up to a dating website was a bad, bad idea. Niall’s bad, bad idea. Louis is single, but has no interest in relationships. Or so he tells himself. Harry is a lawyer whose boss, Nick, happens to give him a bonus, which he decides to splurge on a new work wardrobe. Louis is a frustrated designer, working as a personal shopper at Selfridges. Louis happens to be working on the day a very beautiful, but out of his depth, new customer ambles into their department in need of advice. Louis might have just found the muse he never knew he was looking for.
We Are Only Just Beginning (129K): In the dim light of a dorm kitchen, Harry Styles meets a boy who flips his life upside down. Three years later, he’s a senior in college, ready to take on the world with the love of his life by his side. And then Louis Tomlinson admits he doesn’t know what he wants to do after college after all, and Harry’s world flips again, this time not so pleasantly. He can’t imagine his life without Louis, but he’s starting to worry he might have to.
I was up until 7am finishing your story, The Night Sky is Changing Overhead. So thanks for that. I'm tired as fuck but it was beautiful and lovely and now safely in my favorites folder. Can you rec me any fics? (Preferably long, over 90k, well written with a good plot, and smut) I'm in a bit of a slump cause I feel like I've read everything. 😞
HELLO SUGAR PIE! Oh my goodness, hopefully you at least enjoyed it!!
Here are some newer longshot fics:
Atlas At Last : He doesn’t know what he had been expecting out of the road trip itself besides burping contests and too much shitty gas station food with Oli and Stan, but in the brief moment before Harry ambles up his driveway, Louis idly wonders if this is about to become some sort of Gay Coming of Age story.Maine to California in ten days. In which Zayn’s an open-shirt hippie they meet somewhere in Ohio, Liam’s the pastor’s son running away from home, and Niall’s the number they call on the bathroom wall.It’s 1978. Harry and Louis are just trying to get to San Fran in time for the Queen concert.
Pour Your Heart Out : Louis is his soulmate. Or at least Harry thinks he is. Louis feels the same as Louis. But there are a lot of people named Louis in the world and this Louis might not be the Louis. It’s besides the point though, because Harry knows he can’t allow himself to get close to any boys. He just can’t and he’s told himself this multiple times. He has to simply stay away from Louis Tomlinson. But he can’t. Harry Styles can never stay away from Louis Tomlinson. It’s physically impossible for him to.
Got the Sunshine on my Shoulders : Five years ago, harry styles left his tiny home town to make it big as a recording artist. he didn’t have much regard for what he left behind - a life, a family, and a husband, who woke up one morning to find him gone.now, harry has everything he could possibly want: he’s rich, famous, and adored by everyone he meets, including his boyfriend. but when said boyfriend proposes to him, he’s forced to face the uncomfortable facts of his past - and louis, who’s spent the last five years returning every set of divorce papers harry sent him.
Dress You Up In My Love:
Harry is single, and more than anything wants to find love. Agreeing to sign up to a dating website was a bad, bad idea. Niall’s bad, bad idea. Louis is single, but has no interest in relationships. Or so he tells himself. Harry is a lawyer whose boss, Nick, happens to give him a bonus, which he decides to splurge on a new work wardrobe. Louis is a frustrated designer, working as a personal shopper at Selfridges. Louis happens to be working on the day a very beautiful, but out of his depth, new customer ambles into their department in need of advice. Louis might have just found the muse he never knew he was looking for.
When We Were Younger : Sixteen year old Harry Styles’ world turns upside down when he logs on to gay teen chat to discover somebody has stolen his photos and used them as their own.
Say Hallelujah, Say Goodnight : Louis is an angel who is just a little too bad to be good, Harry is a demon who is just a little too good to be bad, and they’re both a little too in love to be impartial when angels and demons go to war.
These Bountiful Silences : They live in a world where they can only say four words per day. harry meets some people that don’t want to live that way.
Through Struggles, to the Stars : Louis is a Starfleet captain trying to find his place in the universe. Harry is a prince just trying to do what’s right. A Star Trek-inspired AU.
Louis Tomlinson had moved on, made a new life for himself in London as a successful solicitor, so why now did his past have to resurface after all this time. Despite the years that have gone by, a ridiculous growth spurt and an obnoxious man bun, he would still be able to recognise Harry Styles anywhere, even if it just so happened to be in his office’s kitchen making tea.
- nicks power yogurt
- slick and steins TickleMasters
- abc show “broom fuckers”
- the cuck boss
- rooster teeth coachella
- funny gunz
- the gotitforcheap show
- Frosting Fiends
- Hamilton 2: Harry Potter
- Weezer 2
Oh I know, how would the companions react to a sole who is super clumsy? Like a sole who can't walk five feet with out tripping, falling over something, or slamming into something? For some reason that thought entertains me
Sure thing, anon!
Cait: “What the hell Sole, are yer’ feet still frozen or somethin’? Yer’ stumblin’ ‘round like an idiot!”
Curie: “Madame/Monsieur are you alright? Has the radiation affected your motor skills?” Curie was genuinely concerned for Sole.
Danse: “The way you carry yourself makes it unbelievable that you’re such a skilled combatant, soldier.” He teased, giving Sole a smile.
Deacon: “Not so light on your feet there, are you slick?” Deacon would tease, only to end up tripping over his untied shoelaces.
Hancock: “How hard are you tripping brother/sister?” He’d laugh, more amused by his joke than Sole’s clumsiness.
MacCready: The mercenary was pretty clumsy himself, so he didn’t have much room to talk. “Take it easy there, Boss.”
Nick: “Hell, kid.” He’d laugh, shaking his head. “Did that ice box leave you like this, or have you always been this damn clumsy?”
Piper: The reporter couldn’t help but laugh whenever Sole tripped or stumbled. “Careful, Blue!”
Preston: “Take it easy, general. One step at a time.” He’d flash a bright smile at Sole, suppressing laughter.
X6-88: “Sir/Ma’am, may I suggest that you pace yourself? You are graceless when you rush.”
Cars went by. Summers passed with each unique heatwaves. The ZPD working endlessly to keep the mega capital city in control. With accidents and incidents occurring wherever and whenever. Nick and Judy were within the hustle and bustle, working so hard to show their worth, waiting for a promotion or something to say; ‘you have done so well.’ Yet, no one shows appreciation for them, for he seem to be wondering around the city endlessly, waiting for the next incident. Accidents were not making Nick any happier as he does not seem to like the sight of blood very much or dead bodies in some cases. When they do parking duty, Judy tries so hard not to take the negative comments about the tickets to her heart. Despite all the noise and wild emotions, the platonic love between the fox and the bunny is still going strong. They both could see with such clarity, that they were both feeling the same about their job as each other.
There came a day when Nick was not at work. He did not fill the empty space on the chair. Where was he? Has something happened to him? Judy texted him. Nothing. Even Bogo was secretive. Whenever she asked the boss where Nick was, he elaborately evaded the question. Judy had a flicker of an idea that Nick was either with Finnick, or planning a hustle on her. Apart from not seeing Nick on that day, she rather enjoyed it. Mainly because she got into some action. There was an underage koala driving a car, there was a rhinoceros trying to use a toilet in Rodentown which seems impossible and quite beyond me, turns out that he was on parole from a psychiatric ward. She also closed the case of a dodgy judge who was bribed to allow a criminal roam free. As she drove to her home, she felt content with her job but yet, she felt a sense of emptiness. Her fox was not with her. Orange fur with chocolate brown hands and muzzle. That smell. The smell of home. Home was on his fur. Blueberries, earth and fresh summer air. She was at home whenever she was with him.
After unlocking the door to the apartment, she found a note.
“Carrots. Go to the bathroom.”
After rolling her eyes and letting out a short sigh, she made her way to the back of the apartment. In the shower was another note;
“Go back the way you came from.”
A frustrated grunt was given and she marched to the front door where she found him. That green shirt. Triangular ears. Emerald eyes and that cheeky grin. The hairs on his tail stirred in the windy draft within the corridor. His hands carefully moved from behind his back to reveal a cake with message, written in blue icing.
'Happy birthday, Carrots.’
There was also a cute smiley face just below the text.
“Blow the candle.” Nick said with that smile that makes you fall in love with him. Judy let out a quick blow of breath from her nose in humour and blew the candle. Then she looked at him, leaned on the doorway and tapped her right foot.
“Where have you been?” She said,
“I’m sorry, I just had to sort a few things.” Nick replied,
“You will find out soon enough.”
“I better find out. Get in and cut the cake.”
Judy had to splash water on her face. Thoughts entered her mind. She thought of all the time she has spent with him. Has 3 years passed so quickly? Or has it been 4? The reflection of herself stared back. The mirror reflected a lot of things since they moved in. Fights. Love. Sadness. It’s funny how emotions allows love to grow. She smiled at her reflection, took a deep breath and walked out. After sitting down, she saw that Nick had two small pieces of paper, each with a black sign in the shape of a plane.
“Nick?” She says,
“Are those… tickets for a flight?”
“Oh. I’ll miss you.”
“You really are a dumb bunny. You’re coming with me!” Nick exclaimed. Judy squealed and threw herself onto him. They laughed and kissed in utter joy.
On the day, they both went to the airport. As they watched Zootropolis shrink from their small double glazed windows, they smiled, anticipating their next expedition. Ready for some time away from home. Ready to uplift their spirits.