Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

New answers tagged

3

All good answers so far. Let me add one concept that helps me: History is written by the victors. Everyone is the hero of their own story. All those people who died along the way did not survive to tell their stories. That's why the protagonist/narrator survives. If he hadn't survived, we would have gone to someone else to relate the events in ...


1

That depends what sort of story this is. And how you killed the character off. If the story is set in a fantasy universe, you could have the character brought back with a magic spell. If it's a science fiction story, you might be able to posit some technology that brings him back. Failing that, I presume you would have to say that he was not really dead, ...


2

Don't, The best works of art introduce new characters instead of bringing back dead ones. In real life, people don't come back. So introduce a new character, maybe with some similar character traits, or something else reminiscent of the endeared deceased, if that is what you are looking for. Remember, people don't come back from the dead (with extremely rare ...


3

The first rule of cheating Death in Fiction is "No Body, No Crime". You have to fool the audience into thinking the character is dead, by showing them entering the death trap... but not showing the body after the trap is sprung. This can be tricky and you'll need to work out how to put your character in a spot that they can survive but not. In real life, ...


25

I think the main thing you need to do is figure out what tropes are connected to coming back from the dead, and which of those you want to avoid. This TVTropes page might help. Keep in mind that a common trope need not necessarily be boring - they're common because they're popular. That being said, there's a lot of overused ideas in connection to ...


7

Writers have told me that for my stories believability follows understandability. If the ‘what happens’ is something that is explained and makes sense in the story, then people will believe it and accept it. So, if your character is actually thought to be dead at the end of the first book, but really was alive, and that was important to the story, then in ...


1

The child character needs to have a need for a father figure. People have many friends, but generally few parents. Children in fantasy books often have no father figure at all. What is the child character missing that they need a father figure? Do they need protection? Validation? Someone to explain how the world works? The parent character needs to have a ...


1

I think that you need to define your two character's wants, needs, fears, and frailties clearly. Then, have them interact according to their natures, with appropriate levels of openness and vulnerability given their situation. The more circumstances out of their control drive their interaction, the less genuine their relationship will feel. But, if they ...


2

The essence of a good father-son relationship is sacrifice by the father on behalf of his son, it must be a truly altruistic sacrifice, with no reward expected. The essence of a bad father-son relationship is the opposite; the father is selfish and demands (or forces) sacrifice from his son to meet his own selfish wants and needs; so he will force his ...


0

Although it IS okay to end a side story as soon as a character is killed off; it is NOT appropriate (i.e. seen as good writing by readers) to end a story without resolution of the character's arc. The "surprise" ending of this POV you outlined will be seen as crappy writing, it will not evoke any of the emotions you seem to think it will. In this case, the ...


3

You absolutely can do this What is appropriate or not is entirely a matter of your own personal style. How you handle character deaths is part of that style, and it may separate good works from the great ones. There are a couple of different broadly-generalised way to handle the death of a POV character. Hand that subplot over to another POV This is ...


0

It all depends on the point of view. If your POV follows that character, then once that character is dead, there is no one left to follow. In this case, it is your duty to convey to the reader through those last few moments of life that the story is ending. You could write that end in such a way that the soldier understands in that split second that he's ...


1

I think if you set the context clearly you can keep the dreams separate from the hallucinations. By that I mean do not have any scenes where it is unclear he is in a dream to the reader. The character doesn’t have to recognize it. By having surreal descriptions or repetitive totems in the dreams people will catch on. The sources of subconscious knowledge ...


6

I would start with the literature produced by suicide prevention programs. Its targeting the minds of people considering suicide and its trying to educate people of the warning signs, and how to help. This will provide you with insight into the mental frame of your characters Then, you can access research materials produced by psychologists and social ...


1

I think that if you made your main character a vegetarian, that would NOT be tokenism. That should be enough to satisfy your friends. All other characters can be meat eaters, but you're setting them apart as "villains" as against your hero. Tokenism would be when a minor, and eminently forgettable character has the desired qualities. In such a situation ...


4

I believe you have to explain it, somehow. There is nothing worse than an unexplained major action that determines the outcome of the story, especially when the outcome is sad. It seems arbitrary and fickle. And no, you can't rely on the audience to be thinking and rationally analyzing clues. You have to slap them in the face with dialogue, or (better) give ...


6

Make each of the three, full well-rounded characters who have multiple interactions with not just each other but other people. And with distinct and believable personalities. Show how the two treat the woman and how it changes over time. Your goal is for the reader to gradually figure out what is going on. There can be a tipping point, but the ...


10

Forget necessary - don't pass up the opportunity for a moment of drama and poignance as you reveal the cracks in your stoic character's facade. Because you have the scriptwriting tag, I'm less concerned about introducing an otherwise foreign POV, so put in just a touch of monologue wherever it might fit: [MC]'s eyes filled with tears. "You deserved ...


3

If Maiden is plucky as LoneWolf is terse, perhaps Maiden can simply answer for him until his looks of wild surmise are not enough and he actually breaks into speech. Perhaps she could be funny and clever and if not win him over exactly, then at least provide company and occasional help with bandaging those hard-to-reach wounds. Matilda and Amadeus' answers ...


1

Augment your dialog with narrative and action. What is the most extreme thing he can do and/or say to communicate his dislike of her? Would he hurt her? Verbally abuse her? Why or why not? Write such a scene. What is the most extreme thing she can do? Go ahead and write that scene too. Or turn it on its head, too. Don't make his feeling simple dislike--...


7

You could play them as opposites. He hardly talks at all, she talks enough for both of them! She is not unaware or oblivious to him, but she just chatters along, asking him questions that he doesn't answer, making up her own answers, telling about her life and things that happened and her family and her neighbors and adventures she has had, or heard about. ...


5

Two things come to mind: You don't necessarily need character interaction to develop characters you can work with POV switches and develop the characters through their different reactions to situations arising. You can force the characters to interact within the narrative due to external pressure; if they are beset by dangers that require them to work ...


9

Actually, the fact that one of your characters doesn’t want to talk has the potential of making the dialogue more interesting. You have created conflict between your characters, and conflict is interesting. Mr. Stoic’s reluctance to communicate says a lot about his nature and will give your barmaid the opportunity to bounce her personality off his wall of ...


0

My take: (amateur writer, feels like I have the same problem as you do) Books are not a visual medium, be careful about using visual cues (like body language) to describe emotional states. Books however are excellent at portraying mental states. Instead of writing descriptively, consider writing narratively (as in you have a narrator explaining the story ...


4

Dialogue as a Way to "Show" Actions or Feelings There are books (Asimov's Foundation trilogy, for example) that rely heavily on dialogue rather than visual detail or authorial exposition to advance the story. The admonition to show-not-tell is a rule of thumb, not an iron-clad rule, and is intended to invite reader participation or plot advancement without ...


1

You say "non-verbal communication including body languages, facial expression, and social cue", but this is actually a very narrow aspect of Show, Don't Tell. I think you may be misunderstanding the term a little. To demonstrate, here's a few ways of writing the same thing, ordered (roughly) from most "Tell" to most "Show": "What are you talking about?"...


1

There are certain guidelines, and principles in writing, but not any real rules per se. There are things which may earn you low marks in school such as poor grammar, etc. But in the real world things are not that simple. Yes, in certain circumstances, it is better to describe in detail instead of just telling it as it is. But, an entire book written in that ...


3

As an alternative option, consider that if you have problems picking up on "show, don't tell" complexity from other writers, other people with Asperger's may well also have the same problem. You may not need to change your writing style at all. Instead, change your expected audience to people like yourself. Your writing group may not then be your expected ...


4

I'm an Aspie, and I'm a writer, too. Let me tell you how I did it in one case: A young child (in Thailand) is following Uncle Kiet, and tells him "I want to be a mahout (elephant wrangler) when I grow up". Uncle Kiet says "that's not for girls". Therefore, I have shown, not told, readers that the young child is a girl, because rather than being told, you ...


8

I will attempt to guide you through this topic. Let me start by saying this. I think you're being too hard on yourself because the clichés of how people react in stories is something that we all have to learn anyway, diagnosis or not. We don't usually write as reality is, we write as other people have written. Reality is just the inspiration for it. What ...


4

You say other's emotions are clear to you when people are giving verbal hints about them - when they're saying "this is fascinating" etc. This is one tool you could use in your writing. You can hint at emotions through the way a character talks. Commas and repetitions stress what is important; a character whose speech is more abrupt than usual, perhaps ...


7

Writing isn't really about showing what character's feel. It's about making the reader feel. You could even have a cold-hearted unfeeling robot (Terminator?), as long as that character makes your audience have the emotions you want them to have, you're doing it right. I'd suggest reading books, watching movies, TV-shows, and when you feel something, try to ...


9

"Show don't tell" is a general rule which basically means: immerse your readers in your story. It's not meant literally (as others have pointed out) and it doesn't just apply to body language. For example, don't state someone's personality then go into ordinary action and dialogue. Instead, have the character express that personality. If someone is kind ...


20

I'm a professional scientist; my point of view might help. The only way I can think of is to approach it analytically. Body language is a language you don't know. There are books on it, some contradictory (giving you freedom to choose). The parts you are missing is that instead of understanding the language and becoming fluent (on paper), you are trying to ...


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 ...


3

The 2007 CG Beowulf film provides an example of giving the character depth without making him secretly evil or conniving. Beowulf is genuinely a heroic warrior, but he has four flaws: he exaggerates his successes, but more critically he lies about his moments of weakness, he lusts for glory, and faced with an attractive woman his brain turns off. In the ...


1

You are mistaken in your basic assumption regarding what gives characters depth. If heroic Beowulf is in your story secretly a bad guy, that in and of itself doesn't make him three-dimensional. That just makes him a two-dimensional bad guy instead of a two-dimensional good guy. What makes a character three-dimensional is internal conflict. He knows what he ...


5

In middle school my Beowulf essay was about how killing Grendel and its mother were justifiable acts because they were preying on humans, but the dragon was attacked in its lair for profit. I think we see the same flaw in the story – it suffers from sequelitus: Beowulf 1 – Mysterious stranger fights mysterious monster. Tight script, low budget (keeps the ...


2

Make Beowulf more complex, which was your goal anyway. Consider Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) on NCIS. The ultimate cop: But he isn't. When his wife and child were murdered by a drug dealer, and the drug dealer escaped justice, Gibbs (an Army sniper) secretly hunted the man down in Mexico and put a bullet in his head. With no regrets. Consider Jack Bauer (...


4

On the other hand, to reveal that a hero always had a Machiavellian side, would require depth, and thus question their value as absolute reference. My question is: in the context of a mythological tale, how to expand the dimensionality of the hero so that he can be turned into a scheming villain, without losing its value as absolute reference, nor ...


4

(Warning: I haven't actually read Beowulf.) Option #3 sounds like your strongest choice. Start by accepting the myth as fact: leave all his initial deeds as they are, and assume he acted in character then. Think about how his deeds might have changed him. The "boredom" angle is one possibility. Here's how another might work: The king himself needed ...


1

Being upfront is about telling the truth, and unwilling to tell a white lie to preserve somebody's feelings. Being a jerk is about being selfish and uncaring. They don't give a shit about anybody but themselves; physically or emotionally. They show no empathy if they hurt somebody's feelings. they are dismissive or worse, they ridicule and insult those ...


0

First. If you develop the characters first, the plot first or do them iteratively... or just start to write and then edit to make the characters work in the final version is completely a question of taste and writing style. You do not have to create the characters first. You should, however, as I will get into below, have well-developed characters, plot, ...


0

No, characters aren't interchangeable. If they are, nobody wants to read it. The plot happens to the characters, and people read to identify with the characters, as people, and they develop feelings for them (good and bad). Even in a plot-heavy story line, like those used in the current series Elementary (last season airing now; a Sherlock spin), the crime ...


3

It's often a question of perception. Cultural expectations play a crucial role, because if in the culture the woman must kowtow to a man, then it doesn't matter what she does, if it isn't utter submissiveness, it's disrespectful. So, first let's define 'confident' and 'arrogant'. Confidence, is knowing one's own value. Not inflated, not deflated. ...


7

Question: What is the difference between an up-front character and an jerk? Answer: For any individual regardless of gender, the difference is between acting in a way that is true to core values, along the lines of showing integrity (and this might manifest as forthright, outspoken words and deeds--or it might not) and acting in a way that is ...


1

You can have a few options here, each leading to a different result: Muffle the lovesickness. The character's feeling would become a decoration to the plot, not the other way around. You would get what you are asking for at the expense of your character's development; Make the reader feel the lovesickness with your character. Make this love front and center ...


4

A fight scene can prove a lot; while a play-by-play is likely to feel like you're describing a movie rather than writing prose, there's a lot one can tell about the way a character fights, how they win/lose a fight, and what they do after their opponent is at their mercy. For example, I've been writing a novel recently, with a protagonist who is very into ...


5

The secret is to make your scenes perform more than one task at a time. You don't need to dedicate whole scenes/chapters to showing your protagonist's lovesickness. That's not the story, it's not action, it's an emotional undertone. The reader will remember they're lovesick, trust them. Concoct events that propel the story's momentum while occasionally ...


Top 50 recent answers are included