Clich Plots

Avoid the cliché or corny plots that were hardly acceptable when they were first used, and which are now the stuff of bad television shows and comic books. Do not, for example, propose "secret organizations" who are out to overthrow some government and destroy the world. Only governments themselves have the power to destroy the world. And organizations out to overthrow governments are usually not secret, though their machinations may be. Consider the factions who have talked most loudly, in the last few decades, about overthrowing the United States' system: the Minutemen, a right-wing group of fanatical gun-toters; the SDS, paramilitary left-wing publicity mongers, and other similar and equally vocal organizations. None are in the least bit secret. Never propose a villain who, single-handedly, sets out to destroy the world, no matter how wealthy or resourceful he may be. The modern world is simply too complex for any such schemer to obtain even minimal success; he will appear to be a buffoon and not a real character.

On the other hand, you may use the theme of pending holocaust if your antagonist is a high government or military official (President, influential General) who would have access to terrifying weaponry and the authority—or perverted authority—to use them. An excellent example of such a novel is James Hall Roberts' The February Plan, which deals with nuclear brinksmanship. Roberts' detailed military-governmental background is a good model for the writer who would like to know how to make this sort of plot perfectly plausible.

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