12 Examples of Ending the Either Or Problem with a Third Choice

Examples of Ending the Either Or Problem with a Third ChoiceWhen I listed different methods for ending the either or problem with a third choice, I didn’t give any examples because, honestly, the article was long enough already. So if you wanted some examples of each type, you’re in luck! Here are 12 examples of ending the either or problem with a third choice.

Warning: there may be a lot of spoilers.

Examples that End an Either Or Problem with a Third Choice

Outside Intervention

Here are some examples of how this technique has been used.

  • The Fellowship of the Ring: Frodo is fleeing to Rivendell on Glorfindel’s horse, and the Nazgul are catching up. He can either be caught as he tries to flee or turn and fight. Suddenly, the river rises up and sweeps the Nazgul away thanks to Elrond.
  • Speaking of Tolkien’s Middle Earth series, this technique is also used when the Eagles arrive to take them from the fiery trees (every time the Eagles arrive really), when Gollum takes the ring back at the end, and probably a number of other situations that I’m not remembering.
  • The Lion King: Simba and Nala are cornered by angry jackals. They have to fight, and they’re either going to win or die. Then, Mufasa appears and sends the jackals running thanks to Zazu, which Simba and Nala didn’t even know was an option.
  • The main characters are taken captive, but just as they are about to be killed, their captor’s enemies attack. So… they’re free of the first group (mission accomplished). Unfortunately, now they’re someone else’s captives (which generally leads to an opening that wouldn’t have existed with the first captor). (Yes, I know it’s not a specific example, but you can think of a couple, right?)

Actually, these should all seem pretty familiar.

Sudden Epiphany or Reveal

Only 2 for this one: one book and one movie.

  • In Disney’s Moana,Te Kā rears up thanks to the fight with Maui, and Moana sees the spiral pattern on the demon’s stone chest, which makes Moana realize what she needs to do to return the stone to Te Fiti.
  • A Wrinkle in Time uses this, as well. At the climactic moment, Meg’s two choices are to join IT (something she is struggling against constantly) or to continually fight to figure out how to defeat IT. She has no idea how to defeat IT until IT (through Charles) makes a comment that inadvertently reveals to her what she has that IT doesn’t (Thanks, IT!).

That’s enough to give you an idea, but if anyone wants to add more examples in the comments, you’re welcome to.

Secret Skills

I know this has been used in spy movies, but I can’t think of any right now. So these 4 examples are what you get!

  • River’s ability to shoot in Firefly is the perfect example: a character is in desperate straights (fight and die OR don’t fight and die), and a character with no background in shooting appears and saves the day. Thanks to River’s already mysterious abilities (who knows what was done to her?), this doesn’t mess up the characterization.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: To Scout, Atticus is a smart father that she obviously adores but is also a bit embarrassed by because he is a bit older, wears glasses, and prefers to read rather than hunt. When a mad dog comes into town, the obvious options to the children are completely derailed by Atticus being asked to shoot the dog with a rifle because they had no idea that he was a crack shot (a slightly vague example as far as an either-or choice; however, the secret skill reveal was too good to leave it out).
  • In Ghost Hunt, Ayako is established as pretty useless – until the last storyline of the tv show where she saves them all from a horde of spirits and leaves them all wondering, why on Earth haven’t you ever used this before? She had an excellent answer, so it works as a plot device (and doesn’t make the rest of the series seem like a lie).
  • For Trigun, Vash gets out of deadly situations because of skills the audience (and other characters) doesn’t know about for a long part of the series. It’s an intriguing use of the technique because it uses the secret skill to save the characters yet manages to keep the skill secret for quite a while – not an easy feat!

All the other examples I can think of at the moment come from anime. Hmmm… interesting.

Art of the Unexpected

Oh, that crazy unexpected. Here are 2 characters that thrive on it.

  • Miles from the Vorkosigan Saga: His claim to fame is his brain and ability to think of things no one expected. Granted, it gets him into a lot of trouble, but it also often gets him out of said trouble. For example, when he finds himself in a bad situation where the obvious options are 1. surrender and beg for mercy or 2. run, he picks option#3: taking over the mercenaries against him through fast-talking.
  • Then, there’s Peter Quill. At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, he can either try to fight Yondu or hand over the stone. He chooses one of the best third options – appearing to make one of the obvious choices while actually doing something else.

There you go! Examples of each kind. I’m sure there are plenty more out there. You probably thought of other examples while reading this.

You know where those  should go? In the comments. Lets make this a major resource, people!


Author Q&A: Want Some Free Marketing?

Author Q&A interview articleHi! Today’s article is for anyone who hasn’t noticed the new “Author Q&A” link on the left. Or for anyone too lazy (or incurious) to click on it and find out what it is. Well, now all you have to do is read. How nifty is that?

Introducing the New Author Q&A Option

One of the main goals of this blog is to be a resource for authors (any type of writer really). I didn’t get a lot of feedback when I asked what you (the readers) want out of a writer resource, so I’m kind of winging it (as usual). But here are the two main reasons I’ve decided to offer an interview series with different writers.

New Perspectives

Right now, Words & Deeds is full of information I know, ideas I thought of, or articles I’ve found. There’s a lot of me in it. So I thought it would be nice to offer you some perspectives from other writers. Different points of view, different publishing experiences, etc., all in one place.

Of course, I made up all the questions, but if there are any specific questions you’d like to ask various authors, I’m open to suggestions.

Supporting Authors

I’ve been trying to figure out how to support other authors without having to critique or otherwise judge their work. After all, did I really want the support to be prejudiced by my personal reading preferences or high grammatical standards? Would my readers be losing out on different experiences and points of view if I did?

It was quite the conundrum.

Finally, I decided the best way to do it would be to open the opportunity up to all authors by offering a Google form with questions that focus on the writer’s experiences – not their books. That way, genres, language, grammar – it all takes a backseat to common writing issues, publishing problems, and general tips that offer value to other writers.

It also gives the authors an opportunity to expand their market share and spread the word about their writing. Free marketing – wooh! You get an article that links to your site(s) and that you can share on facebook to generate some interest.

Is it going to skyrocket you to the top? Idk. Probably not in the foreseeable future. But it could boost your following and SEO some. Every little bit helps!

And we writers gotta look out for each other, right?

How to Participate

If you ever want to participate (A.K.A. fulfill the author part of the Author Q&A), simply fill out the form. There are directions on it, but I’ll reiterate a few points:

  • It may not be published immediately. I don’t want to overrun Words & Deeds with author interviews and drop all the other types of articles. I’m expecting to do one author Q&A a month at most.
  • If you want it published around a certain time (like the month your new book is coming out), I’m good with that, and I’ll do what I can to accommodate you. Whether or not it’s possible depends mostly on how many people end up participating and how many requests I get.

We’ll see how it goes. I may need to revamp how it works, depending on what feedback I get and how many authors are interested. For now, fill out the form, and we’ll go from there. Or stay tuned and get ready to hear from your first author.

I look forward to hearing from you and learning from your experiences!


For Authors with Books in Kindle and Print: Check out the Storyteller UK Competition

Unfortunately, I’m not ready to take advantage of this opportunity. I am, however, prepared to share it so that you can. You’re welcome.

Sorry. Just kidding – I can’t say that seriously in those circumstances without feeling like the R-rated word for jerk.

Shizzle, Inc is now back to $2.99USD, and it’s the Storyteller UK competition to blame. That, and partly the negative reviews that come from readers grabbing a freebie without even reading the blurb. Oh, and the fact that in June I’m going to pitch it to a dozen publishers and a $2.99 book may look […]

via Storyteller UK competition and why Shizzle, Inc is no longer free — Ana Spoke, author


Gender Guessers Are Handy for Writing

gender female maleA big part of writing believable stories is shaping believable characters, and when you’re trying to write a believable man or woman, questions of gender come up. How do you write convincingly from the opposite gender? How can you tell if you succeeded? That’s when gender guessers are handy for writing.

What Is a Gender Guesser?

Some people analyzed a bunch of writing by men and women for trends in word usage and grammar (To learn more about the that, check out “Do Women and Men Really Write Differently” by Elizabeth Barrette). Then, they plugged that information into an algorithm to scan text and say whether it is written in a more masculine or feminine style.

Now, algorithms like that are available online. Google “gender guesser” and you’ll get sites where you can paste in some writing, click a button, and get an analysis of the writing style.

Why Use a Gender Guesser?

Honestly, as a writer, I don’t really care what gender my normal voice is. I don’t care if my regular writing sounds more masculine or feminine. What does it matter? (Really) It wouldn’t even occur to me to think about it then.

Even with dialogue, that’s not my main concern. Yeah, it’s part of it, but if a character is a gruff, terse, guy with a soft heart, I’m going to focus on conveying those characteristics. Mainly because I define my characters more by their personalities than by their gender. So I focus more on “what would Sylvia say?” than “does this wording show that Sylvia’s a woman?” (The exception would be if I were writing some sort of femme fatale or overly masculine character where the gender is one of the defining characteristics.)

If you think about it, unless the character’s spouting a long monologue, there’s not usually enough words to really decisively convey whether the character is masculine or feminine. Realistic character-wise, a lot of lines could fit either gender, and it’s really the context and the non-dialogue writing that’s going to give the reader the biggest impression of the gender. To even use a gender guesser to check it, you’d have to copy out each line of that character’s dialogue, and it could take a while to get enough for a full analysis.

That’s why I worry about gender more when I’m writing from a character’s perspective, especially when I’m writing in first person. That’s a lot more text that’s supposedly coming from the character’s perspective, so there’s more pressure to be able to convey the character believably (IMHO).

Ever heard someone complaining that a male author writes unconvincing female characters? Or vice versa? Or how about the debate over whether anyone can really write convincingly from the opposite gender? I’ve heard variations on all that. And I think it’s a natural enough worry for a writer. That’s when gender guessers are handy for writing.

If you’re worried about conveying a specific gender, then test paragraphs of your writing in a gender guesser like Hacker Factor.

For example, in the last year as part of my writing experiment, I started Deathwalker, a first-person narrative from the point of view of a young man named Sephtis (Seph). Even though I picked first person with a male character deliberately to challenge myself (writing-wise), I was a bit intimidated. I’d never really written in first person before, and trying to give the impression of a different gender at the same time seemed… complicated. Could I really pull it off?

To make matters worse, Seph is not really the uber-masculine type. He’s often hesitant and unsure of himself, and most of the time, he’s more logical than testosterone-driven. In other words, he’s more of a real guy than the cock-sure, charge-forward stereotype; however, since that stereotype is a big part of how we define masculinity, how do you write a convincing male character that defies those rules?

I decided early on to concentrate on writing the character and hope it worked out. Recently, my brother told me about the gender guesser programs, and I plugged in the most recent chapter (including the dialogue from other characters). Here’s what I got.

deathwalker gender hacker analysis

That’s pretty good. I don’t really know how accurate it it, but it seems to match what I was aiming for. Especially since when I put in a different story with a female lead (of the gutsy, stubborn variety), I got a different answer.

Strong woman gender writing analysis

Again, it seems to match, which is reassuring. It tells me 1 of 2 things. Either 1. I’m doing pretty well at representing the gender of my characters or 2. both the gender guesser and I use the same rules for evaluating gender in writing. Since I have no real way to evaluate the accuracy of the gender guesser, I can’t really say whether options 1 and 2 overlap.

That said, if you’re interested in checking some of your writing, here’s one way to do it. The other way (the traditional method) is to have people read it and see if the characters are believable to them. Since the gender guesser is so easy to use, I see no reason not to do both.