32 votes

Why can I not self-reflect on my own writing critically? How can I self-edit?

Let the Manuscript Rest In order to see your own errors, you often need a little distance. Can't see typos? You brain is filling in what you meant to say. Can't see plot holes? You're still too ...
Jedediah's user avatar
  • 8,659
31 votes
Accepted

How do you ensure that a red herring doesn't violate Chekhov's gun?

Red herrings do serve a purpose: they (ostensibly) make it harder for the reader to identify the true culprit. They don't inherently violate Chekhov's gun, but you do need to, at some point, bring ...
F1Krazy's user avatar
  • 10.8k
27 votes

How do you get out of a corner when plotting yourself into a corner?

Revision. Go back and decide which red herrings have to go. Sometimes this, in fact, requires inventing new red herrings because you concluded an entire subplot has to go, it produces too many bad red ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 8,802
27 votes

Is it morally wrong to use tragic historical events as character background/development?

I wouldn't see it as disrespectful in and of itself. I would do some research into where refugees migrated to. That said, it is shedding a light on a piece of history that isn't covered in western ...
hszmv's user avatar
  • 13.5k
25 votes
Accepted

What counts as exposition dump and is it possible to do exposition dumps without affecting pacing?

The key is in the word "dump". So you could have two characters going somewhere and slipping into some secret doorway or cave or whatever and then "Whoa. What is this place?" A's ...
Kate Gregory's user avatar
  • 3,761
22 votes
Accepted

How do you use unreliable narration when using an omniscient narrator?

That's easy. Part of your narration gets shoved into dialog of some kind. It lets you put in exactly as much truth as you need, and as much false info as you like, and leave out stuff that is ...
Boba Fit's user avatar
  • 1,668
20 votes

Why can I not self-reflect on my own writing critically? How can I self-edit?

One trick that's helped me in the past quite a lot is to change the entire document into a different font. I'm not exactly sure how or why this works but I remember reading about it somewhere and ...
RiverTam's user avatar
  • 301
19 votes

Is it possible to write a character that remains mysterious until the very end without sacrificing character development?

Consider the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character of Garak, a recurring character introduced early in season 1 who made his final appearance in the show's final episode. Garak is a tailor on the ...
hszmv's user avatar
  • 13.5k
19 votes

Paid beta seems to have skipped large portions of my manuscript

You were cheated. On Fiverr, you only get a few days (3 I think) to complain, and get a refund or get a correction. Actually you just get a credit on your account you can use for another gig, not a ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
17 votes
Accepted

Is it better to slowly introduce a character's looks rather than describing it all in one paragraph?

It's usual to describe an important character when the POV character first encounters them - otherwise the reader is left with a "white box" when they try to imagine what that person looks ...
Phil S's user avatar
  • 1,418
16 votes
Accepted

When should you reveal the motivations of a villain?

Unfortunately, this entirely depends on what serves the story. It is, indeed, perfectly possible to write a good story where the motive is concealed entirely from both all the point-of-view characters,...
Mary's user avatar
  • 8,802
16 votes
Accepted

Why is it generally important to be consistent with the tone and style of writing?

While there's nothing to say you can't do this, it's unusual for a reason. When a reader selects and starts reading a book, they become invested in it (hopefully!). They say that the first 20k or so ...
Phil S's user avatar
  • 1,418
15 votes

Is it morally wrong to use tragic historical events as character background/development?

I don't think it was disrespectful, referencing brutal history is not. We cannot be expected to never reference the terrible things in history out of "respect". I would consider it ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
14 votes
Accepted

When writing a tragic hero for a tragedy, do the readers have to sympathize with the characters?

I have a character who is extremely evil and unlikeable, ... How did he get that way? I doubt that he was born evil and unlikable: the tragedy could be the way that someone who is initially OK ...
Simon Crase's user avatar
14 votes

How to safely pose this Mary Sue character?

teaching Classical Mechanics to humans is her mission If she were to act as the hero, there would be no villain that could even scratch her. A villain does not need to physically scratch her to foil ...
Michael Borgwardt's user avatar
12 votes

When should you reveal the motivations of a villain?

As Mary says (+1), it depends. If you are writing a Sherlockian Mystery (super-detective gets a tough case), the motive is often hidden until the finale. Figuring out Why the victim was murdered is ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
12 votes

In historical fiction, should the narrator call the characters by their last names or by the nicknames used by other characters?

First of all, you, the author, are not the narrator. The narrator, even if not a character in the story, is a function of the narrative and provides a specific viewpoint and voice for your narrative. ...
Ben's user avatar
  • 4,903
11 votes
Accepted

My characters either feel clichéd or don't have distinct voices or mannerisms, does that need fixing and if so how?

You may be confusing speech patterns such as dialects as being the same as voice. Voice is as much what the character thinks is important enough to bring up in conversation as it is the choice of ...
JonStonecash's user avatar
  • 5,247
11 votes

How do you use unreliable narration when using an omniscient narrator?

First of all, you are talking about omniscience (all-knowing), not omnipotence (all-powerful). Now, how do we make an omniscient being unreliable? The way I see it, that can only be possible if the ...
jtb's user avatar
  • 316
11 votes

Is using diverse verbs on action beats to tag speech frowned upon?

I think the first example is much easier to read. As a reader, I should be focused on the dialog itself, not trying to decipher the tags. For example, reading 'Josh conjectured' took me out of the ...
MikeS's user avatar
  • 296
10 votes

Why is it generally important to be consistent with the tone and style of writing?

Expanding on Phil's answer: He's right that you run the risk of alienating readers. But maybe that's okay. Much like genre, tone sets the expectation for your reader and is something of a contract; ...
kmunky's user avatar
  • 910
10 votes

What counts as exposition dump and is it possible to do exposition dumps without affecting pacing?

My understanding of 'info' dumps is that they shouldn't be used and that the writer should insert information in the narrative to show the reader pieces of the backstory/environment/history that is ...
ewokx's user avatar
  • 478
10 votes

How to safely pose this Mary Sue character?

Just give her one power, the power of illusion. Or alternatively, instant hypnosis. All of those things you've got? She can create illusions that do the same thing. And as magical illusions, they have ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
9 votes
Accepted

How can you make the unstoppable force trope work?

An unstoppable force is nothing without direction. The conflict of an unstoppable force character isn't against others but often with him/her-self. Mainly the existentialism of himself. What is the ...
A.bakker's user avatar
  • 2,403
9 votes

When writing a tragic hero for a tragedy, do the readers have to sympathize with the characters?

I really doubt that is possible. Readers (because we are somewhat egotistical) tend to identify with the protagonist, or at least with one of the "main crew." Even with a tragic flaw, I don'...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
9 votes

Paid beta seems to have skipped large portions of my manuscript

I think this is a very difficult question. On the one hand, if you paid by the word and the contract was for your beta reader to read the whole text and give you feedback on all of it, then that is ...
Ben's user avatar
  • 4,903
9 votes
Accepted

How to safely pose this Mary Sue character?

Those powers sound more interesting than the mechanics she wants to teach Your Mary Sue has all sorts of powers - but what about social skills? What about expectations she comes in with? What about ...
Lio Elbammalf's user avatar
8 votes

When writing a tragic hero for a tragedy, do the readers have to sympathize with the characters?

There is a difference between a hero and a protagonist. There is a difference between sympathy and empathy. There is a difference between relating to a character and connecting with them. From common ...
kmunky's user avatar
  • 910

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