Hello my friends! Today I’ve decided to bring up a topic very close to my reviewing heart, to try and help everyone with their new stories! (Thank you Mana/Space for RR, and getting everyone motivated!) Most of you will likely know I read a lot of stories on here, and thus I review and make lots of (long, and honest) comments on every single chapter I read! This means I have seen many different stories and eliminations and patterns and errors and all kinds of interesting things! To try and aid the writing process I’ve decided to make a blog on Organic Elimination Orders. Before I get into Organic Elimination Orders (OEO (Not oreo!)), let’s talk about the two other main types of elimination orders that I’ve seen, or know people use.
The first, and definitely most common, is likely my biggest pet-peeve and easily the number 1 way to ruin your story. Before a writer even begins to write their story they know that Becky-Anne is going to come in 5th place. They know Charlotte will quit after Charles gets eliminated. They know where every one of their characters will place. They know how far their characters will go in their story. They know how the story ends. There are two major issues with the Pre-Planned Elimination Order; the first being character development will suffer, and second you lose motivation.
Characters should always be growing and developing and changing. Almost every character should face choices within in the story that can affect them as a character. By using a pre-planned elimination order you have already set the end result of a character and now you need to find a story to match that placement. So usually by using the Pre-Planned pattern, the author will already have the elimination story planned for every character before they start writing- and if they don’t they still know that by X they need to eliminate Y. The issue with this is that your characters who are eliminated early on will almost always have no story, or an artificial story not catered for that character. When I say that, I mean I could easily make-up a new character, and switch the characters with no actual change to the story.
The other major flaw in terms of character development is that using a pre-planned elimination order can drain your characters. For whatever reason, if a writer chooses to go this route they will rarely adjust the elimination order. This is a massive issue when it comes to characters who sounded AMAZING in their head, but on paper they simply do not deliver. None of the readers enjoy the character, and the character itself hasn’t had any plot since the beginning chapters, but have managed to make it all the way to the final 7 because #Elimination Order. Sometimes certain characters just don’t have very good interactions possible. It is a thing that can happen and as an author you need to know how to cut the dead weight. On this point, if you’ve ever written a story and made it near the end of the story, there is a large chance you ended up with the dilemma that none of the characters left have interacted yet, or if they have they already had their story told and you don’t know what to do anymore. This issue occurs because you chose to use the pre-planned elimination order; where 9 times out of ten, you’re writing to declare someone a winner instead of writing to tell a story.
The second issue with using a pre-planned elimination order is it leaves you lacking motivation. By using this method you have already decided you are writing to declare a winner instead of telling a story. This will make you lose motivation. Why? Because it’s easy to write out a elimination order. it’s not easy to explain to someone the struggles that Britt had to go through, how his ‘girlfriend’ was using him the entire season, and when they finally made it to the final 2, she revealed the truth and he was too heart-broken to compete. He ditched his friends because of the things they said about his girlfriend, and now he has no one. So when his friends come and fight for him in his corner in that final chapter, you FEEL emotion, you are rooting for him to win, and you actually CARE. My motivation while writing Total Drama Frozen was to have people care about my characters, because I put time into them, because I cared about them. The winner, or where my characters placed did not matter to me because I wasn’t writing for that reason. Using a pre-planned elimination order gives you less of a chance to care about your characters, it gives you a disadvantage when it comes to motivating yourself because you have two options: 1, write the entire 18 or however many chapters in order to tell your reader who won, or write 18 names in a straight line to do the same exact thing.
The other and significantly less common, and perhaps more bizarre version of elimination planning is 100% random. Before every chapter, or even just before the elimination in some cases, the author will randomize the cast to decide who goes home. I don’t know if I really need to explain why this makes little to no sense, but I shall try. The only GOOD thing about writing with this method is it impossible for the reader to guess who will be eliminated next, so every elimination can be a shock.
What would have happened in Total Drama World Tour if Heather was eliminated 5th, and Alejandro right after her? The entire first 6 episodes (and the entire season) was focused on these two. World Tour was a story about how even Heather can get redemption. What would the point be if you just eliminate her, and her rival so early. Yes, the story would then change, and someone else would get the focus. But the odds are the elimination would have felt sloppy, and would have come out of no where. Would it be a shock? yes. Would the reader feel happy about it? No. You just spent 6 chapters building up a dynamic between two characters, putting a large emphasis on them only to cut the story short, without a proper ending. Using a randomized elimination order means you lose control over your own story.
The biggest issue with this pattern is that you will have a very difficult time(in my opinion can not) writing any plot lines because they can end at any point. Using this method you avoid having the predictable eliminations, and you would think you would avoid author bias but not even. A writer, even if the character is going to get eliminated can have them have twice as many lines as any other character. It makes no difference if they’re going or not.
I honestly do not have any idea on why anyone would willing choose to write with this method because it accomplishes nothing asides making the story seem lazy, confusing, and pointless.
Organic Elimination Order:
Finally we get to talk about my preferred method, the OEO (Organic Elimination Order.). Yes, there is a strong chance I am very biased to it because it is how I choose to write, but it works for me and how I write… Anywho, after reading all my ranting about the other methods you may be shocked to know I do plan my elimination in advance but I do so in arcs.
Keyword being Arcs. If you’ve ever looked at the talk page for Total Drama Frozen, you would notice the chapters are separated into batches, these are my arcs. For example chapters 1-4 are one arc. Using the OEO method I plan out my story lines for an arc before I write it. This includes feuds, relationships, important interactions, and anything else that is relevant to interactions, as well as the 3 or 4 eliminations for that arc.
It is in my opinion that a meaningful story or interaction takes time to develope, and my golden number is 4, so for 4 chapters I would develope new interactions, and nurture existing ones. By making new interactions, I replace the ones I removed by eliminating characters, but kept the story moving, by continuing with already present interactions. The idea that is important here is that the story had a clear direction for every arc. For example, (spoilers) one of the major points in the first arc for Frozen was Dania getting eliminated. She was the final elimination for the first arc, so I knew I had four chapters to make the reader care enough about her story, and make her elimination plausible.
A really important plus side of writing using OEO, is that every character will receive roughly the same amount of screen time because they have planned interactions for the arc, and you know where they need to ~end up~ by the end of the arc. As well as you don’t know who the winner of the story is yet, so you can’t give them ~extra~ screen time to make them a likable winner. Using OEO every character is seen as an equal, asides from the 3 or 4 who you know are getting eliminated.
Those 3 or 4 characters it is your duty to ensure their story gets told. Their story ends in this arc, and you need to make sure people understand them. People need to feel SOMETHING, whether it is joy or sadness when they get eliminated. I know the first elimination (and the first few after) can be tougher, but a character who gets eliminated at the end of the first arc should have a story told at the very least.
OEO is really easy to use. After you have your cast, you plan your first arc. Plan the interactions you need to happen in order for the story arc to be concluded. Going back to the first arc of Frozen, I needed Dania to have a conflict with Ivy. I needed Kaleb to get involved with Vishal. I needed Dania to have friends, I needed Jade and Ivy to become close. I needed a number of interactions to happen in order for the overall story of the arc; Ivy Versus Dania to come to a nice close at the end of the chapters. There were a number of other interactions going on while this arc went on, in order to keep the other characters growing; like Emmett and Rosalie getting closer. These other interactions are seed interactions. Eventually because you took the time to plant them, they will flourish into a great story arc, but if you don’t take the time to plant them, you story will have much less of an impact.
At the end of your arc you need to restart. Write down everything you know about your characters, who do they like? Who do they dislike. Now look at the characters and think about whose story you can end. In Frozen, I was able to identify 3 characters whose stories were easily closeable. I wrote their names down and began plotting out the interactions that would lead to their story ending. These new interactions, and storylines are based on the seeds you planted in the last arc, but also READER FEEDBACK. I do not recommend completely doing fan-service because Ew, but at least take it into consideration. You never know they might have a way to close someone's story that you never thought of. After you have the interactions you start to write your new chapters and then repeat.
You might wonder what it means to close a character's story, so I may as well get into that partially anyways. If you haven’t caught onto the fact that I am all about character stories, then you’re crazy, because that is what I am all about. With character stories in minds I want to feel like characters have had their stories closed. I don’t want to have to wait until the sequel to find out what happened to them. When a character gets eliminated I should feel like I am done with them, that even if they NEVER make another appearance in a story, they had their story told.
When it comes to figuring out whose story you can end it takes time. I personally find it really sad, but it’s worth it in the end. If I go to Twilight, from Frozen, without spoiling too much, she basically made a wish on a snowman and ended up finding an elf from Santa’s Workshop. Twilight is the type of character who believes in Santa, and wishes on the stars and fairy tales. There were a number of different ways to close her story. Maybe the elf turned out to just be a freak, and so she loses her wishing nature and turns into a darker character, maybe Santa shows up and she goes to live her happy-ever-after, or maybe even she wins the entire thing and opens up a fairy-tale amusement park with the elf by her side. The point being there are many different options that I could have taken with Twilight, and these goes for every single character. Your job as a write is to figure out what makes your character the person who they are, and what reason would they be eliminated for.
You want to create an ORGANIC elimination. Meaning you grew the elimination from start to finish, you planted the seed, and nurtured their interactions until you were ready to pluck that crop and reap the rewards. That is what OEO can do. It can make your characters have truly unique stories. Stories that people want to hear more of, but they don’t have to. Wouldn’t you love to hear to about Twilight’s adventures as she tried to get to the North Pole to return her elf friend to Santa? Of course you would! Because I would have spent her entire time on Frozen leading up to the point where she gets eliminated and that is the next step for her. You would fall in love with her starry-eyes, and her elf boyfriend, so much that you want them to have their happy-ever-after.
The biggest plus of organic elimination orders is that after every arc you reevaluate the cast. You reevaluate their stories. You are checking up on your seeds, you are watering your plants. You’re making sure they are on the right path, you’re growing your characters. This means you should NEVER have a character who just kind of floated into the merge without a story, because every character has potential. You should NEVER have a character that you have no emotional attachment to, because you created them, and you made them special. You should NEVER lose motivation, because your characters need you to tell their story- they’re counting on you.
I know I may not have been super clear on anything in this blog, I don’t reread ever, so just comment down below if I need to add some more information!
Also if you would like to seem more blogs, give me some topics, or if you have a simple question let me know!
Here is a link to where I stores the arcs for Frozen. I would prefer you didn’t go through everything if you haven’t read the story, but I can’t stop you either way. Please note: Not all information is on the pages, as at the time I did most planning with pen and paper. Also, the elimination order was updated as I wrote the story, and wasn’t made all at once.