110

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 ...


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 ...


76

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 ...


73

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 ...


71

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 ...


64

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 ...


52

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 ...


50

It is perfectly fine for your story to end with the "bad guy" winning. Consider for example George Orwell's 1984: He loved Big Brother Complete and utter defeat. 1984 is one of last century's masterpieces. @Wetcircuit mentions tragedy in a comment, for good reason. Tragedy does not necessarily imply that the "bad guys" win, but it does imply the "good ...


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 ...


42

Describe them. There's nothing wrong with mentioning that he is black. However, in that segment, you're missing an opportunity to actually describe them, which will both make for a more interesting read, and illustrate his ethnicity. E.g. "I walked towards the trio. They were engrossed in a spirited conversation; it was as though they'd known each other ...


41

Would you kill them if they were straight? If yes then you're not being homophobic, whether you're seen as being homophobic by readers and critics is a different story of course. If the death drives the story forward then its necessary and if you treat that particular death no differently than you do the death of straight characters in the same piece then ...


38

You're taking "show, don't tell" too strictly. There's no rules in writing - they're more what you'd call guidelines. If you're in doubt about a passage, write it both ways. Then see which one feels more natural, and which one feels weird and convoluted. If you're finding yourself writing in an unnatural and convoluted manner just to follow some rule, don't ...


38

Humans don't all look the same, dress the same, speak the same language. Why should $FANTASYRACE? So you have Legolas elves. You should also have Rhea Perlman elves. You should have Lupita Nyong'o elves. Benedict Wong elves. Peter Dinklage elves. Your dwarves can look like Gimli and Thorin, and they can also look like Michelle Pfeiffer. You should have ...


37

TLDR - Readers guessing your plot twist doesn't have to mean it's ruined, there are ways to make it satisfying linksassin's answer is good, but I'll offer an alternate idea : Anticipated plot twists can work if they're executed well Take the famous Star Wars example. The twist that Darth Vader is Luke's father isn't a twist for present day first-time ...


36

You leave out small talk by focusing on big talk! By this I mean every thing a person says should be something at least one person in the conversation needs to hear, or wants to hear, or is surprised to hear, or if the other person ignores it, should have wanted to hear. Dialogue has consequence. Cut out lines that don't have a purpose, or aren't going to ...


36

The trait that makes Dolores Umbridge, and other characters, repulsive, is sadism. Enjoying the suffering of others, enjoying causing pain - we find that unforgivable. A villain who hurts others due to some twisted perception of it being right and necessary - they can (theoretically) come to understand that their motivation was wrong. But for Umbridge, who ...


35

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. ...


35

Welcome to Writing SE - great first question. There is nothing wrong with being silent on race. You have a character who is - presumably - fully fleshed and three dimensional and that is what matters. Readers love to imagine characters and not mentioning her race allows them to imagine her as they will. You say that you have hints so those who pick up on ...


35

In a written medium, your readers can only identify your characters by what you give them. We cannot "see" your characters. So, if at any point in the story there's a John, and then again there's a John, they're the same John, unless you give us something else to distinguish the two Johns. "Something else" might be a surname. It might be a nickname. It ...


34

A few points, in no particular order: "A black man" paints a very different picture from "an elderly black gentleman" or "a tall, black-skinned young man". In the first case, the skin colour is the only thing the narrator sees about the man. That's a bit disconcerting if you look at it like that. In the other examples, skin colour is one of many ...


33

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 ...


32

If your givens aren't working, change your givens. If Vampirella McExplosia is dominating every scene she's in, then she's too big for this story. Save this draft (so you aren't putting a stake in her, just moving her) and rewrite your story entirely with someone else as Roommate #4. You will have to change plot points, and probably the entire main ...


32

Have animals react to them strangely It's a trope (with a surprising amount of real-world evidence) that animals can sense things wrong with the world that people can't. Impending earthquakes, cancers, nefarious intentions etc. Dogs raise their hackles and stare, cats slink out of the room. Easy to explain by him/her/it saying 'yeah, dogs and cats just don'...


32

There are a lot of things you don't mention in your story. You don't mention how many times a day your MC uses the toilet. You don't mention how many beauty marks she has on her body. You probably don't mention the colour of her t-shirt. You only mention the things that are important. If a character is a child, their age is important - it affects the whole ...


31

No, I think you're good. Since so many of your named characters are queer, it's not a case of killing off the sole token of a group, like it is with the 'only black guy dies' trope. Similarly, the villain being queer shouldn't be a problem because there's lots of other representation. And as Ash said, you're not killing her off because she's queer.


31

A world with races (or species) so dissimilar from one another, without a continuum between them, ought to be racist. Subverting the trope, which is a trope in itself, is going to just flip the racist viewpoint, without removing it. You can make short dark elves with long beards, and you simply switched names between your previously established racial tropes....


30

There is a surviving account of the first meeting between Portuguese sailors and Japanese locals. What's interesting about it is that accounts of the meeting survived from both sides. The accounts go something like this: Japanese account: Those barbarians! They eat with their hands! Portuguese account: Those barbarians! They don't have chairs! You ...


30

You cannot prevent that suspicion altogether; especially because that is your plan. Which means your two characters are heterosexual; so you can't really use homosexuality as a show-stopper. I would suggest you make it clear that one of them is already in love, and the other one knows it. If your guy is a jerk, that may be because he is unhappy, the woman ...


29

I think the problem is that for somebody that doesn't care, Banshee gets awfully worked up about not caring, and this emphasizes an evil side, not a neutral side. I think you are trying too hard to TELL us she is neutral, instead of just showing her being neutral. I'd edit the following exchanges: After " to free the people of these corrupt corporate ...


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