130

You're looking at this from the wrong side. Your goal isn't to include or to represent. Your goal is to tell a story. The story should contain all the elements that it requires, and nothing but the elements it requires. "Including" anything that isn't useful to the story in any way is called 'shoehorning', and is not a good practice. Is your story served in ...


110

This is a matter of opinion; personally I don't find it sexist. People have genders, and sexual orientations, and they have to mix. We stray into sexism when we pile up too many tropes. In your case, you avoid the trope of sexual reward for Edward's effort on two fronts; Lily is his sister, and he doesn't seem oriented toward heterosexual reward anyway. ...


101

I don't think it's alienating, but it does press my suspension of disbelief a bit to have such a large fraction of the cast be LGBT characters. Gays are something like 3-5% of the population, with the rest of the letters being an even smaller fraction. Having a group of four LGBT characters with no heterosexual ones is unrealistic unless they are together ...


77

It's not a paradox - it's a choice You, as the author and creator of your specific fictional world, have the choice to define which of these statements is true. There is no inherent reason to assume one or the other is true and that the other one is false. In fact, it's often used as an important plot device for the characters themselves to explore whether ...


75

If you want to avoid showing a character as "not like other girls" then make sure your "other girls" aren't stereotypical. The trope shows up with female characters who don't fit in. They don't have a lot of female friends, if any. When they do the stuff they like to do, they're surrounded by men. You can praise these characters all you want but the ...


60

Since the subject matter on which the character is an expert is specific to the world that you created and not related to any real world knowledge or faith, you already know everything there is to know on the subject. The problem is, there is not yet a lot to know because you haven't invented it yet. You need to make some decisions about how resurrection ...


55

The Bechdel Test has three rules: It has to have at least two [named] women in it Who talk to each other About something besides a man Some people who try to apply it use "man" in the romantic sense, but it doesn't have to be. So if your scene has the two women as named characters talking about a foreclosure, it passes. The idea is not to tick off a list ...


52

In general, if you can swap out a woman for a precious object and the story remains mostly unchanged, you should attempt a rewrite. The most important thing here is to give the character her own agency, try to avoid the trap of the "strong female character" where she has no significant flaws, and make damn sure she isn't just used to create "manpain". S. L. ...


47

Show his religious practices more and his explicit beliefs less. What does a devout Catholic do? Probably he doesn't spend all day talking about his beliefs; instead he lives them. He tithes. He fasts on Fridays. He attends mass daily before going to work (or wherever he spends his days). He teaches in Sunday school. He studies self-defense but it's ...


45

I am not on the autistic spectrum, and I confess that it is not obvious to me to what extent and in what manner you plan to characterize your character. On the other hand, I think that your problem could be common to other types of characterizations. To show that a character has certain features, for instance being on the autistic spectrum, there are some ...


44

Excellent writing is one of the primary selling points of some games - but it is by no means necessary. It can even be counterproductive in some situations. There has been research into what aspects of video games players enjoy the most. One model is Quantic Foundry's Gamer Motivation model. Their research indicates that there are six primary aspects of a ...


44

As cloudchaser pointed out, a succubus is a very specific entity, That said, a modern YA twist on such an entity is eminently doable. Lust is, at a base level, a desire for something. And a succubus feeds off the energy created by desire for it. So how do you modernize and make it YA friendly and also relevant? By employing the single largest ...


44

After the OP's edit, 4/300 characters is not "too diverse". That ratio nullifies all the answers here. In the age of Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy, it's probably not possible to be "too diverse", but robots and raccoons do not represent real people even when writers give them preach-y slogans. There's a big difference between multi-culti window-...


43

On "Jo Writes Stuff", Jo has produced an epic analysis of whether or not a character is a "strong female character"; and a test to go with it. Here is her instructions on How To Use The Test. She has stopped any new analysis, but here is a list of All The Characters She Reviewed. I believe this can help you with some of your issues; just writing a post-...


43

Monica's excellent answer provides you with the how, but I'd like to touch on when, since you asked "how soon is too soon?" The rough answer is "It's too soon if the villain hasn't earned it." Your villain has to walk all the way back through the brainwashing/teaching/propaganda etc. which got the person to the dark place s/he began the story. The villain ...


43

I also have Asperger Syndrome. Before I explain how I "write around it", let me talk a little about showing and telling. Writing isn't what it used to be, and I don't mean that in a bad way. In competing with film and TV for people's attention, novels have started to mimic the way such media tell a story through what can be seen and heard. True, good ...


42

Woman here. :) I think what your female character would struggle with most is that suddenly she does need her man beside her - for safety, for being treated a certain way by other people, etc. It doesn't matter how feminine she was in the 23rd century, it doesn't matter if she liked cooking and staying at home and having doors opened for her, being suddenly ...


41

This is far more personal a question than you might think, because it depends entirely about your voice as a writer. Let me take your example and give you examples based on it. (it makes sense, if you think about it) Matrix-styled. He stood tall, no matter that he was once again in a white room. The Loading Program, they called it; he mostly called it a ...


39

Thought one: To my mind, a "token character" is one who can be completely described in one sentence. If after reading your book you gave someone a quiz, like reading this book was a school assignment, and you had a question, "Describe Bob", and everyone who took the quiz replied, "He's the vegetarian", then I think you have a very shallow token character. ...


39

Your premise is flawed: the characters that are killed are not disposable in the sense that it doesn't matter whether they are killed or not. Quite often they are peoples favourites, which makes them perfect candidates to raise the stakes for the reader. By making it harder to anticipate what characters are killed and at which point a character might get ...


38

Answer: It depends on the execution. What makes this misogyny is if the sister is in the story (solely) to allow Edward to be a hero. If she is a throwaway character who serves only to provide a prop for him, then your execution is flawed and in that case, yes it is misogynistic. But, if the sister is a hero in her own right, perhaps facilitating Edward's ...


36

There's another character in this equation: the MC. It's why this is called a love triangle rather than a love-decision or a love-fork. Relationships are not like ordering "chicken or fish". The MC is completed, or complemented, differently by each woman. Figure out the chemistry between the main character and each woman – that means there is something new ...


35

Young protagonists are often presented as orphans, because it gives a plausible reason they might be fending largely for themselves. For adults, on the other hand, there are many possible other reasons parents might be offstage --many books about adults simply never mention the parents. However, loss of parents is probably the most devastating, emotionally-...


34

Hmm. When I'm not sure about something, I like to look at some examples. All Quiet on the Western Front has the characters never win. In fact, they all die, and their side loses the war (something we know from the outset, since that's Germany in WWI we're talking about). Nonetheless, All Quiet on the Western Front has its moments of warmth: there's ...


34

The light is inside him; it just needs a path out. Not a big gaping doorway that opens all at once, but small tendrils. Think "many drips carve a rock", not sudden change. How do you do that? In a lot of fiction that I've read (and I suspect there's psychology behind this, but I don't know), the first cracks come with perceived inconsistency and self-...


34

I found a very elegant reduction of alignments in a Tumblr post: I figured out a simple guide to the alignment chart last night: Lawful: Rules matter more to me than individuals.
 Chaotic: Individuals matter more to me than rules. Good: Other people’s well-being is more important than my own. 
Evil: My own well-being is more important than other people’s. ...


34

Personally the dissonance whenever I have imagined a character for hours and maybe thought about their stories throughout some days because I can't read a book straight in one go is the biggest problem. It's very irritating because some part of me wants to scratch all that I have thought about through the time and rebuild it to have the same image as the ...


33

Just because you can understand how the villain got that way doesn't mean you have to agree with the villain's actions. Most people can understand how Black Panther's Erik Killmonger turned out the way he did. (More of that discussion in my answer to this question.) That doesn't mean that the viewer has to agree that his solution is the right one. We can ...


33

Evil-happenings-in-childhood and similar "extenuating circumstances" are a trope referred to as a Freudian Excuse (TV Tropes link). The main problem with this trope is what it implies: because character suffered whatever. it is now OK for them to do Bad Thing. Ergo, it is OK for anyone who suffered whatever to do Bad Thing. Ergo, anyone who suffered whatever ...


33

It is neither necessary nor desirable to fit everything you've generated for a story into the story In my reading I have encountered, broadly speaking, two different kinds of stories. There are tightly-plotted stories which attempt to resolve and give closure to every thread the author introduces. (The Westing Game comes to mind.) This is great. On the ...


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