131

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 ...


117

If I had to play out this scene from the POV of the protagonist, it would be hard to transition from "redshirt" to "heroine" in a first person narrative. She - as a person - is the heroine from the start no matter what the reader thinks. Her personality doesn't change. That's why I would play this scene out from the monster's point of view. For the monster ...


113

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. ...


107

There are several ways to think of Jack because he takes on many, many roles depending on what the movie needs. In general, he's a walking plot device and only very rarely does he develop anything along a character arc. If he does develop, he may not be faithful to it. And his role changes from point to point as the movie has different demands. Primarily: ...


105

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 ...


93

I will disagree with others. I am a professor involved in AI, and the easiest way for you to think about a super-AI is to understand what Intelligence IS. Predictive power. Intelligence is the ability to discern patterns (in behavior, in sound, visually, by touch, even by smell) and use those patterns to predict other facts or high probabilities: What will ...


84

I would suggest looking at the women in your life (family, friends, co-workers, etc). I have a problem with the ideas of 'feminine qualities' and 'femininity'. They imply that without those a woman isn't a real woman. Much like a man won't be a real man unless he is and can do a set of things. You could perhaps think about the stereotypes for 'manly ...


83

You don't. To put it in more words: the audience has to get attached to make the death relevant. You want her death to be a wake-up call, a touch of realism and a reminder of what war is. Sure, there is no guarantee that your audience will like the same characters that you like. But if you realize that you've grown fond of that female soldier, if you find ...


78

The essay is from a 1971 symposium on women in science fiction. The 3 actions are defined in relation to the plot, not the character's psychology. Purposeful Actions are what we'd call "character agency" today. It is the character's actions that directly or indirectly effect the plot. Habitual Actions show the character's normal state or routine. ...


77

This is a great question. I think being aware of the problem is a good first step. If you really do want to use the traditional creatures but without the baggage, I think you'll have to take on the suggestion from the comments section, and subvert the tropes --either by inverting, replacing or mixing up the coded racial signifiers, or by revealing the ...


76

You can't. I mean, sure, write your book matter of fact. The advice I give out a lot. It works. But it's not just about what you say or don't say in your book, it's about the choices you make. When we've talked about diversity and racism in books we talked about how making a choice to avoid such things makes a statement. Choosing to include real-world ...


74

Have him appeal to history, not philosophy. You’re approaching this problem from the wrong angle. You can’t have the two characters both make the same type of argument — an appeal to ethics/morality — because one of the arguments is inevitably going to be ‘better’ than the others, making the other one seem phony and strawman-like. In our real-life culture, ...


73

Sure, take the example of the Library story arc in Doctor Who, we see River Song tell the Doctor his name by way of convincing him she's trustworthy but we don't hear it. The audience only know what she told him because she says she's going to tell him and only know it's the right name because of the Doctor's reaction to it. The same is possible in written ...


72

What pattern are you breaking? In this case, you are hoping the accumulation of other people's writing clichés will carry your opening. You want to subvert the trope, but unfortunately this trope subversion is almost as cliché. It's used when the protagonist is a strong female, and it's used when the villain is a strong female. Maybe the only reader this ...


71

Have the narrator tell the action in that place, not show it. Then show Old Man's reaction. Example: "Nothing gives you the right to do this." Old Man sat back down in his chair, hoping Taylor would take the hint and go. Instead, he bent over so close Old Man smelled beer and onions on his breath. Then Taylor whispered something Old Man had last heard ...


63

I did this once in a novel-length story. After the first two appearences my wife said that she has a strange feeling with the side character, but couldn't tell why. In the end she was like 'I knew it!'. What did I do? I made the side character appear 'just in time', when noone else was around or 'hide' from others for whatever reason. She did always know ...


62

I think the key here is in the method of communication. Whilst face-to-face, using the verbal communication, the male character appears curt and uncommunicative. But on reading his logs she finds pure poetry from a man who is only able to fully express himself through the written word. The reading of the previous shift's logs becomes a back-and-forth which ...


61

The narrator knows about the thoughts. And the narrator will know that the thoughts are illogical, and can distance himself/herself from the thoughts. Of course that only works if the narrator isn't the villain in first-person. For example, you might write something like: Dick thought about his problem. How on earth could he lock a door that did not even ...


61

The absence of representation in a single story is not harmful. The absence of representation across all media is harmful. On of the trickiest things to understand about discrimination is that a story that is not in itself discriminatory is capable of fueling a larger trend which is discriminatory. No book or movie can tell every story. It's simply not ...


60

The answer I'll give you here is the same as the ones I've already given you and others: write what works for you. If these are who the characters are, then that's who they are. If you're forcing diversity, then it will come off as forced. That includes making some characters white just to be diverse. Will you alienate or even offend some white readers? ...


60

Hard-to-pronounce names suggest a different culture. If War and Peace had its characters named not Andrei Nikolayevich Bolkonsky and Pierre Kirillovich Bezukhov, but Andrew Bolk and Peter Bek; or if the characters of the Kalevala were named not Väinämöinen and Joukahainen, but Van and John, that would ruin my immersion. It would break my immersion because ...


57

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 ...


56

You have a realistic effect that follows from the situation that you've put your character in, but that effect isn't interesting, nor does it affect the story in any significant way. The solution is have it happen off screen. You have the MC eat, realistically they'd have to use the toilet. But you don't necessarily write about them using the toilet, right?...


56

To answer this question, I think it would be useful to look at The Lord of the Rings. We are explicitly told that Frodo is "chosen" for the task: Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, book 1, chapter 2 - The Shadow of the Past) Yet we do not feel, at ...


54

Make sure that being LGBTQ is not the character's defining trait Any character who is defined by a single trait is going to be flat and stereotypical. If that single trait is a minority status, then the character will feel inserted for the sake of diversity. If I were asked to describe Dumbledore, I'd start with "old wise mentor" and "powerful wizard". "...


53

Personally, I don't need to identify with the characters to enjoy a story, whether in literature or in cinema. What I do need is to identify the characters as realistic constructs with human reactions and quirks. As a young teenager, I discovered one of my favourite authors ever. The Portuguese Miguel Torga wrote plenty of short stories whose protagonists ...


53

Something is very off about this being, and everyone knows it. Except it's not. When someone is very off, people steer clear. The creepy guy who hangs out in front of the supermarket makes his creepiness known by asking out any woman unfortunate enough to engage him in conversation for 5 seconds. The creepy little girl likes to talk in depth about dead ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible