71

These terms are very often used to mean magic, and I've never before encountered anybody discussing the ancient greek etymology. You are totally safe using the modern meanings. In general, words often do have multiple meanings, and we understand from the context which meaning you are using: if you were writing a historical text about ancient greek ...


62

This notion that a novel has a meaning that we can ferret out and interpret has been a staple of English teachers for decades. Essentially it is an attempt to turn a novel (or any other work of art) into a simple proposition. As far as I can tell, they do this because otherwise they can't figure out what they are supposed to teach about a novel. The ...


50

There are at least as many problems with "pyromagus": "Pyro-", "necro-" and "-mancy" are Greek, "magus" is Latin. "-mancy" (manteia) is a practice, a magus is a person. Magus is, originally, a Zoroastrian fire worshiper. So "pyromagus" is redundant, and "necromagus" is contradictory. Any clearly invented word will can prompt the reader to ask, "wait a ...


41

You talk of your characters as one or two basic characteristics, and that's it. That's where your problem is. There is more to a person than a short tag. Think about your friends. Chances are, you can describe them all as "lawful good", or "friendly geek", or whatever kind of people you surround yourself with. But each is much more than one tag, right? Each ...


36

Trying to not offend in general, as a goal in and of itself, is automatically a losing proposition. Posed as an optimization problem, it resolves to saying nothing and reaching no one. You cannot please everyone. Every choice attracts some potential readers and alienates others. This is normal. There cannot be a universal list of permissible victim groups. ...


33

The problem isn't offense, the problem is harm Words have power. The more people that your words reach, the more power they have. So it becomes important to consider the harm they can do. Perpetuating stereotypes (particularly negative ones), normalizing violent or abusive behaviors, spreading falsehoods as if they are facts all have the power to cause ...


33

It's perfectly fine to leave details up to the reader's imagination. But those comparisons are neither doing work for you nor for the reader. They have the look and feel of descriptions, but they are empty. Let's look at some ways of potentially using this technique: "The trees were full of lillahi birds." I think this is okay --the reader gets an ...


27

To the person experiencing anger, it won't appear irrational. To them, there's a very good reason why they're angry, why they're infuriated. What you need is to show the reason. Now, the reason might not be what's right in front of them right now, causing the anger to appear irrational to the outsider. It might be that this last event is just the last straw,...


27

It would look more natural outside of dialog, to me. Unless the character says "snort." "He's really attractive." Megan snorted. She grabbed a napkin and wiped the coffee off the table. "Uh, no."


25

Well to start with, "Adverbs are the devil" is not a rule. It is not even correct. Adverbs are a perfectly peaceable law abiding part of speech like any other. That many people use adverbs poorly is a valid observation (thought not a rule). A reasonable rule would be, if you want to write well, learn to use adverbs appropriately. As to your two examples, ...


22

I'd venture to guess that you are caught in the worldbuilding trap. Worldbuilding is a perfectly fine hobby. You can make up characters and people and kingdoms and creatures. You can draw maps. You can imaging histories. This is all a perfectly fine way to keep yourself occupied on long rainy days. But it is not storytelling. Storytelling is about putting ...


22

Subversion is not just a way to introduce literary variety. It is actually subversive. It overturns the established order. So you have to ask yourself, why does the established order exist, and what would be the motive for subverting it? The stoic male is an established literary trope because it is an established societal phenomena. Through most of human ...


20

I don't think it is possible to avoid giving offense unintentionally, obviously (to me) that is possible even if you think hard about not giving offense. I also don't think it is reasonable to demand we give no offense to anybody: My daughter was offended, in Django Unchained, that one of the characters intentionally shot and killed an innocent (and healthy)...


20

Some people have some sort of dislike for semicolons. See The Good, the Bad and the Semicolon. If you're not comfortable using semicolons at all, that's up to you. But if you do normally use semicolons, and are only not comfortable using them in dialogue, think of it this way: in dialogue, we use pauses. We do not give pauses names, we just stop for however ...


19

Don't overthink it; readers will generally go along with whatever terms you want to use, as long as you explain it sufficiently, and as long as they aren't wildly out of whack with their expectations. As a reader, I know that each story may use terms in slightly different ways, or in ways that have different implications for the story you are telling; this ...


18

Well, you can try using short words to display bouts of rage, using really simple words in the speech with a slurry of verbs scattered intermittently. You can also emphasize repetition because people who are angry often can't forget about the past and think the same things over and over again. For example, you can say something like "I remember being on ...


18

The "stupid action" of your character needs to line up with the traits that character usually shows. It cannot be a random action taken out of the blue - that would, as @Amadeus points out, break the immersion. What do I mean by "lines up with the character's usual traits"? Let me give you some examples. Jim Butcher, Dresden Files: a wizard's go-to ...


17

This may not be a popular view, but as I see it, punctuation is about meaning, and only indirectly about sound. Speech includes a range of subtle variations in pitch, speed, volume, and pronunciation which all help to convey the intended meaning.  Writing doesn't have those — and no punctuation can represent them accurately.  So instead, punctuation has ...


17

I agree with the previous poster who said that if you want to use the word “snort,” it would probably make more sense as a verb than as part of the dialogue. That said, I think “pfft” might fit the bill. Max asked Jill whether she’d finished the homework. “Pfft. Are you kidding? It’s not due for another week!” She said. Obviously, this works best ...


16

The reason for the "adverbs are the devil" rule is they are generally "telling", not "showing". The reason we want to "show" instead of "tell" is that it is the writer's job to assist the imagination of the reader. To do that, we need to appeal to their senses, primarily visual and auditory, but also senses of heat, humidity, touch, and emotional feelings ...


15

I'm sorry but I am offended. I'm not sure what my issue is, but in these times, that does not seem to matter. It is the age of outrage. If you buy into the above nonsense, you will never write anything. If anyone in the entire world can shut you down simply by saying, "I am offended", there is no point even starting. It seems that every statement has a ...


15

Especially for a discovery writer, the first draft of a novel is often as much an exercise in planning the final version as it is an attempt to actually produce that final version. It may be best to think of your current draft as serving two distinct purposes: firstly, as an outline for a novel, with lots of detailed information appended to it; secondly, as ...


14

Yes. In fact, it's inevitable that you'll have to leave some details up to your reader's imagination; describing every little detail takes up a lot of space on the page and you can only fit so many pages in a book. Your job is to provide the reader with the most pertinent visuals so they can form the rest of the picture in their mind's eye. That said, if ...


13

I have to disagree with Mark's thesis that modern writers shouldn't waste their time trying to use symbols and develop their own. I think you can, and that it is worthwhile. What is a symbol? Defining our target A symbol is an associative representation, often of an abstract concept with a more tangible or concrete idea. Symbols generally have metaphors ...


12

It's impossible to make sure your book is interpreted the way you want it to be. Some writers have actively disavowed particular audience interpretations of their works. In many cases the audience either ignored the author or sometimes even actively attacked the author's interpretation. Famous examples include Tolkien saying the ring is not an allegory for ...


10

I believe you start with both of them together. A young warrior overthrows an oppressive regime. A fae outcast learns new magic to build the world anew. A criminal drug addict seeks redemption by turning his life to saving others. ^^ If you can identify a character goal and what your characters will do to reach it, then start writing in the 'normal ...


10

It's not that unusual. In fact, the dynamic is why Mulder and Scully worked in the X-Files. Before the show aired, the typical paring in similar series was a skeptical man and a believer woman. X-Files reversed this and gave Scully the supporter of the plausible and Mulder the role of the true believer. In the early seasons, Scully's monologues (...


10

Bathos is not the mere fact of a serious moment being followed by a light one. It is an intrusion of a cheap vulgar laugh into a dramatic scene. It undermines the seriousness of the stakes, the drama of the scene, the meaningfulness of your story. It says "don't take any of this too seriously." Which is why it is criticised in the Marvel Universe films - it'...


9

I don't necessarily take any issue with books filled with very bad people doing very bad things. Nor do I expect that every author be personally a saint. But I do believe that every novel has a moral dimension, one independent of either the author's or the characters' personal traits. And for that reason, I do hold the writer responsible --not for the ...


9

A trick I have learned and have been practicing recently is to stop every now and then and observe myself living in the moment instead of just living it. Its hard to do, but gets easier as you practice. When you are in a moment where you are angry, try to stop and take note of what your own inner dialogue is. What are you thinking? What do you wish you ...


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