139

Sexism isn't a yes/no kind of thing, and it's a mistake to treat it as such. Saying that a story or an idea is "sexist" is shorthand. What it means is that it creates, encourages, or reinforces sexist stereotypes, and that those stereotypes have real-world consequences. So, a good way to come at this issue is to use these: Guiding Questions What are the ...


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 ...


112

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. ...


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 ...


89

Imagine her point of view, as a typical nurse. She has already met hundreds of patients over the course of her career who had inappropriate feelings for her. 99% of them held no temptation for her at all, and by now she's sick of it. Some were old, some were unattractive, some were mean when they thought they were being nice, some made sexual suggestions at ...


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

What is "the right way"? Why do you consider it better than some other way to write a story? What do you consider "mistakes"? You can ask your son about why he has made certain stylistic choices or plot choices, but at the end of the day, those are his choices to make. You can criticise aspects of the story that you feel are unoriginal, or have unfortunate ...


82

There is definitely conflict, in the sense of narrative conflict, in My Neighbor Totoro. Sickness (with possible death) counts, whether it's resolved through any action of any characters or not. Finding Totoro and then not being able to find Totoro, or seeing the growth of a magical grove of trees, and then having it not be there later counts. Not knowing ...


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 ...


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 ...


76

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 ...


76

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 ...


75

You have read books like this, or at least are familiar with books like this: Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls is set in Spain, and it is indicated, repeatedly, that the dialogue is in Spanish, in fact in a particular dialect of Spanish. The main character's accent is even discussed. But the dialogue is written entirely in English. Romeo and ...


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, ...


72

Filler is never a good thing. It's possible that 100 pages is simply the proper length for your story. However, it's also possible that you have too much narrative summary and too little scene. Some samples: Summary: Jane ate lunch at Luigi's. She ran into Josh, and told him about the trouble with the locusts. Scene: The restaurant was almost empty, a ...


72

I can type at about 5K words per hour, but I can't write nearly that fast. I need to think of what's going on. I need to keep some sort of consistency, and I can't remember all the details. I need to do some planning. My creativity seems to burn out somewhere around 5K words each day. Putting words on the computer screen is one thing; knowing which ...


71

As a dyslexic, I understand the general aversion to reading. As someone who loves storytelling, I nevertheless want to be exposed to stories. There are some life-hacks for the reading adverse that want to write. Get the audiobook Not only does an audiobook outsource the reading to someone else, but it is something you can listen to while travelling to work, ...


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 ...


70

Start with a word ending in 'ing'. e.g. Opening the door, he stepped into the dark. Chasing a ball he thought he'd lost, the dog ran through the rain-swept streets. Start with a preposition (so a prepositional phrase). e.g. At the time of the incident she was in London. Through the rain the ball was difficult to see. Start with an adverb. e.g. Yesterday, the ...


69

You've already gotten quite a few good answers, but there's one important point that I didn't see in any of them: You can omit visual and aural details. If you don't want to tell the age of the protagonist, or the hair colour, or the type of clothes, or if you don't want to tell it yet, then you can. In film and TV that's not possible; the protagonist is ...


67

Research is vital if you want your story to succeed emotionally Imagine that you're writing a story about a horse race. Your protagonist's horse is in second place, just barely behind their arch-nemesis. Right as they approach the finish line, the protagonist's horse gathers itself for a mighty leap and propels itself into the air over the other horse to ...


67

I think this is a really interesting question - because if we avoid using advanced vocabulary with children, then when are they supposed to learn it? I think the answer is that it's a matter of quantity and proportion so the reader doesn't lose their flow or end up missing something important if they just keep reading, and also of giving the reader the ...


66

I would say mostly breaking (or more bending) the plausibility of realistic speech, realistic reaction (physical or emotional), and telling instead of showing, or using too many nods and shrugs and adverbs (he said excitedly). It is relying too heavily on some same "formula" for description or exposition, to the point it becomes noticeable. I should note ...


66

You indicate pauses with action, even mentioning the pause. (Or, as Cyn says in comment, with other exposition or thoughts). Chad said, "Was the computer software hacked?" Bryce shook his head. "No, it was a bug caused by legacy software. Any other question?" Bryce waited for somebody to answer, but everyone averted their eyes, or looked ...


63

You can and should answer these prompts in your own style and voice. I do have my doubts and concerns about these kinds of tests, but if there is any legitimacy to the grading at all, it won't be based on you writing in the style and voice of the sample. (In other words, you're focusing in on the wrong aspects of the sample.) You should be able to ask for a ...


61

I have worked from home for over fifteen years, I treat it like a job, with minor laxities (but not in my schedule). I have a separate cell phone which is the only number I give for work colleagues. On my personal phone, my message is approximately: "I am working, if this is an emergency then text me, or leave a message and I will check at my next break." ...


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

Each time it makes sense, no more, no less. You do not need to make recalls. Consider your character's POV. When does he think about the weather ? Closing the door of my house, I looked at the sky. It will not be long before it starts to snow again. or Walking on the sidewalk, he was careful not to slip. or He looked at the landscape, beautifully ...


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? ...


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