Plot pitfalls + ways to avoid them

World of Horror

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1. THE PLOT ISN’T ORIGINAL ENOUGH. Go through your pages and highlight anything that you’ve read in another book or seen in a movie. In the margin, write where you’ve seen it. Then list these sections and make a note for each one about how it could differ from its lookalike. A mental patient escapes by throwing something heavy through a window. Too much like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? Instead, the patient walks out with a visiting grandma after convincing her he’s an old friend. Quick notes like these can help you detach from unintentional imitation.

2. READERS ALWAYS KNOW EXACTLY WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN. This may be because you’ve chosen a plot point that’s overused, or because you keep giving away the answer in advance. Readers know the villain is going to whip out a picture of the hero’s son and blackmail her by pretending to have…

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