My actual question is: is it acceptable as a valid question to copy an existing question and switch the incidental, or would it lead to a duplicate flag?

Inspired by linkassassin's skepticism toward the fact that "death" is an incidental, I switched death with marriage starting from a question about characters facing death.

The following obviously does not reflect a real problem I am having with writing, hence I refrained from posting it on the main site (it sounds like a good story nonetheless). I attach it as an example:

Motivations of characters facing marriage

Would it be boring/unrealistic/silly/cliché if my characters only had this main motivation for the duration of a story: avoiding an arranged marriage to save themselves?

The setting is Europe during the late XVI century. A contract is made with a group of immoral beings that cannot be reasoned with. It is an arranged marriage that can only end when the MCs are subdued to the will of their husbands. All characters are aware of it. They know that in a short span of time they will not be free anymore, and will not be able to pursue any of the other goals that they thought they could achieve (i.e. being a pianist, writing books, travelling, helping orphans). There is no way to escape this. How would someone react if their world was about to suddenly collapse, facing such a marriage in a near future?

In the story one character just gives up and let herself be betrothed. This serves at establishing the terrible reality of these arranged marriages. Another try to hide at first, and then run away, which serves at showing that there is no escape as she will be captured and severely punished, alongside with her family. All the others decide to stick together and try to find a way to fight back, even though this is futile, society has decreed their demise, no one will help them, and they are thus doomed.

My heroines decide to hold on as long as possible. The problem is that they lack defining traits because they all have the same goal and the same motivation: they try to save themselves.

I have a pretty precise outline of the story and the actions of my MCs are designed to be logical. However I feel the lack of character arcs and motivations. The differences between characters have been diminished because they are in the same perpetual freedom-or-slavery situation. What they cared about before does not matter much anymore to them. They lack secondary motivations apart from saving themselves.

Would such a lack of secondary motivations be a problem and if yes, how to fix it?

  • 1
    As a note: I initially wrote a question about "motivations of characters facing salami"
    – NofP
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 21:15
  • 2
    FWIW, I think it does sound like an interesting story….
    – wetcircuit
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 13:47

1 Answer 1


This is a nonsense question

Your argument that switching incidental is a case for not adding a tag doesn't make sense. There is no hard and fast rule for how similar questions need to be before becoming duplicates. For this cherry-picked example it works but we shouldn't extrapolate that to a rule or guideline.

This example could be a duplicate

The example you choose is a poor one, not because it is a bad question but because the title doesn't match the real question. Fundamentally the question is actually asking "is a lack of secondary motivations a problem?" What the primary motivation is can be changed without fundamentally changing the question because that isn't what that user was asking. Answers to one question are equally good answers to the other which is the main criteria for a duplicate.

That being said I think it is actually unlikely a question like this would be closed as a duplicate. Because no two writers will ever have exactly the same issue. We shouldn't be copy-pasting questions and editing only the fiddly bits. We should be asking a question about an issue we have. If you had done that instead of trying to keep the questions identical this would certainly not be a duplicate.

Another example that is not a duplicate

If your proposition were true, then it would need to be true for all cases. Here is an example where that doesn't work. Adapted from: What makes a good death scene?

What makes a good marriage scene?

I'm looking specifically into the written medium (NOT screenwriting) and the marriage of an important friendly character.

It's supposed to be a scene to make the reader scream "yes! finally!", not "Don't! You're making a mistake!"

Are there any known tricks for writing such a scene?

If this had been your example then the answer would be definitively not a duplicate. Answers about what makes a good death scene are not a good answer to what makes a good marriage scene. This shows you can't just replace the so-called "incidental" in any question and have it be the same question.

  • I think we agree, actually. Even your example is of the kind "what makes a good scene in which the reader cheers or cowls in fear precisely in agreement with my plot decision?". If you check the [accepted answer][writing.stackexchange.com/a/31528/28528 ], it is rather general and could be applied to other non life-threatening situations.
    – NofP
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 19:43

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