21

warning: TV Tropes links ahead Downer endings are okay There's nothing inherently wrong - or, to be honest, all that original - with a downer ending. Stories where the villains win, or the heroes only win Pyrrhic victories, are really pretty common. As long as your story is compelling, and the villain's victory is more than just "They had more troops, ...


20

Realism means variety, because real life isn't all one thing To some degree, you've answered your own question: I want there still to be hope in the story after these two events happen If a little kid's parents die, show him sometimes forgetting to mourn and having fun instead. If petty nobles end up ruling their fiefs unsupervised, show some of them ...


18

There is indeed such a term. Phil Farrand of The Nitpicker's Guide to Star Trek called this "being the cabbagehead." Certain information had to be revealed to the audience, but it was information which the characters would reasonably already know. So the writers picked someone in the room to be the "cabbagehead," meaning someone developed the I.Q. of a ...


15

I for one, would love to read a follow up novel about a world ruled by orcs. So let me ask you this: Why not write that book instead? In fact, why not make the orcs the heroes of your story? Could the orcs be in rebellion against your Sauron character? Could they be done with the entire thing and just want to wrap up the war so they can go home to their ...


13

When explaining concepts of any kind to an audience unfamiliar with the knowledge domain, the following methods are highly effective: analogy & metaphor - compare (albeit inexactly) what this thing does to how that thing does whatever (in computer software, hardware, and services (among other fields), there is the ever-present "car comparison") stories -...


11

In fiction there are protagonists, the characters that the writer wants the readers to identify with, and antagonists, the characters who have opposing goals and seek to stop the protagonists from achieving their goals. There are also heroes and villains in many works of fiction. Heroes tend to be noble and heroic and good and villains tend to be evil. And ...


10

Saving Private Ryan is probably the best example I know of a well-received movie where all the protagonists died. Looking at it, its pretty clear that it got away with this because their deaths were an integral part of the narrative (the final scene pretty much beat this into the audience's head). The movie was about sacrifice, so the character's sacrifice ...


10

Yes. Both of the examples you gave (more so the LotR one) "work" in their own right without the need to "get" the reference in order to continue understanding the story. The more likely a reader/viewer/etc is to "get" a reference the more you can lean on it in the story, the same is true for pop-culture references. To use a recent-ish example in Avengers: ...


10

You should be able to use memory (or flashbacks, but I dislike them); or tell it from the Jewish girl's POV, but give her a reason to have conversations with a non-Jew, e.g. a teammate, an ambassador's daughter she befriends, or an American businessman's daughter. Or son, if you are inclined in that story direction. Listening to the poor fools on TV, she ...


9

According to the tvtropes entry for The Watson, The Watson is the character whose job it is to ask the same questions the audience must be asking and let other characters explain what's going on. A sidekick sometimes acts in this role. According to wikipedia, Sidekicks can provide one or multiple functions, such as a counterpoint to the hero, an ...


9

Sure. There are two possibilities. Oh, you used religion as the example so let's continue with that example. Similar things would apply to an ethnic heritage, or for that matter to the subculture built around a hobby like video games or Civil War re-enactment or whatever. One, you can throw in an allusion to your religion, and people knowledgeable about your ...


9

As somebody who has lots of story ideas but really struggles to get them written to completion, I can personally relate to this, and I would love to offer some advice that helped me to get through this problem. Hopefully it will help you too! What happened to me Over the past few months, I've been writing a cyberpunk detective story. It's a new genre venture ...


8

Absolutely. My own book is filled with references to Judaism and to American Jewish culture (the number 18 is one). In lots of those cases, it's explicit, but not always. I would venture to say you already do this yourself. But you may not be aware that some of your references are culturally specific. Most of the time we're not. It's just mainstream ...


7

If money and time is not a problem, then why shouldn't you? It can't hurt. The big benefit of a personal website is that you can list all your stories there (what answers the question what you should put there ;)). So you have one page where you can link to in your e-books or mention the URL in your paper books. If the reader liked your story he can go to ...


7

No one seems to be addressing 3) Would creating a story that ends with the enemy winning be something interesting to others? Are you telling a “big picture” story, or human (orc, dwarf, elf, whatever) interest story? And why can’t it be both? Use the enemy winning as a backdrop. Maybe not Love in The Time of Cholera, but isn’t Gone with the Wind the ...


7

Write something that captures the imagination, from page 1. First, +1 to DPT answers, those are practical. This is like asking "How do I write a #1 book". There is a lot of advice out there on writing a #1 book, and much of it comes from #1 authors, but in the end their advice relies on a person being able to write with some imagination, skill and ...


7

The tactic I use most often for this is analogy. By creating an analogy to a commonly understood topic, you can introduce the core ideas in a way that feels familiar to the audience. That said, coming up with a quality analogy can be difficult and possibly take a couple of attempts. It doesn't need to be perfect, though, it just needs to lay out the basic ...


7

Amadeus and Logan's answers are already good. I'd like to expand a bit about the "no explanation needed" that Logan presented. Your assumption is that the majority-readers needs explanation. This is not true: as humans, we are good at drawing lines between dots and dealing with missing or partial information. If a read of a jewish character performing a ...


6

Locus Magazine has an annual poll, dating back into the 1970s. You can search Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Database (http://sffrd.library.tamu.edu) using the subject term "Polls and Surveys" for other sources. The database is not full-text, so you will have to obtain the material from libraries.


6

I don't think there is a strong commercial reason. YA with YA protagonists is a commercial audience, but note it is also an audience heavily influenced by parents, that want fantasy for their "coming of age" children that isn't too explicitly sexual, violent, bloody, etc. I think an adult fantasy is fine. Basically all the Star Trek, Star Wars, Avatar, and ...


6

I think this depends on the tools you're using to create the documentation. Doxygen has some manual commands you can use for conditions: http://www.doxygen.nl/manual/commands.html In most structured authoring environments, there are also ways to do this. My expertise is with DITA and in DITA you can use conditional processing attributes to tag content for ...


6

Most definitively! In fact these types of cultural references serve two purposes. On one hand, they are for the reader: if the reader identifies it, it may resonate with the feeling that the reference is attached to. On the other other hand, they are for the writer, and this is the most important: they come handy to the writer in writing a certain scene. ...


5

Your listed themes and goals are at cross-purposes. You have: finding your place in the world living according to your values figuring out what really matters to you questioning assumptions sticking up against authority who gets to decide what a society should be like balancing desires that are equally important but can't be reconciled (the rebellion and ...


5

Title It starts with the title. Let's compare. Bolt Thrower: XCOM Board Game, Dark Souls, Starship Troopers, Johnny Flynn Someone talking about their random musings about four seemingly unrelated topics. I doubt that the article will be in any way more coherent that the title. Opinion: It's time to give up on first and third person shooters for ...


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