42

Write it. It may be as bad as you anticipate, but you can revise it. In fact, many writers do advise revision. Just not to the exclusion of doing new stuff. (And different stories.)


40

Don't. Having enough material that your readers "can read all day and still have more to read" should not be your aim when writing. Your aim should be to write something good enough that they will want to read it all day. Speaking as a reader, I would honestly much rather read a 50,000-word book that keeps me engaged and entertained all the way through, ...


34

I'm fond of the following quote from Neil Gaiman: Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. You're the cook, they're the diner. If they don't like the taste of the omelet, you can't tell them ...


34

You need a counterweight - a character (or characters) who have to deal with the fallout from the main character's attitude. Maybe a friend (or coworker) who recognizes what a colossal jerk your main character is and tries to keep him from going completely off the rails. Maybe a boss who has to keep smoothing over problems and incidents - your main ...


33

What sort of time period are we looking at? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months? Over a period of hours, it's going to be things like the angle of shadows (how high in the sky the sun is), the temperature, et cetera. At days, it comes down to water breaks: a dead slave is worth no money, so they need to be given something to drink occasionally. Are the ...


22

No and no. The 'rules of writing' are more like suggestions, but if there's one rule you should take for gospel it's 'mistrust anyone who will sell the secret to writing a best-seller for just $14.99 plus shipping and handling.' Save The Cat can help you structure a novel, yes. So can the Snowflake method, the Hero's Journey, the Heroine's Journey, the seven-...


21

"He's selfish, arrogant and grumpy, and tries to find blame in others for everything wrong with his life." Other than the blame, he sounds like Dr Gregory House and Dr House managed to engage people enough to survive 8 seasons on TV. I would argue that the main character doesn't have to be "likeable" as much as "relatable". If ...


21

The readers need to care. If the protagonist is likable, that is one reason to care. If the protagonist is not likeable, you need to give the readers something else to care about. This is difficult, but not impossible.


20

Tolkien wrote the first drafts of what would become the Silmarillion during the first world war. He tinkered with it most of his life, writing and rewriting whole swathes of stuff. Writing something out doesn't obligate you to finish it, nor does it obligate you to go out and publish it. You can bash the whole thing out and put it in a desk drawer and not ...


20

There are many different thoughts on this. If you are writing a novel, then you can do basically whatever you want (and I'll get to that later), but if it's an academic paper, you should be more rigid with your length. For academic papers, your assumption was right-- 5-6 sentences is a good length for that paper. You won't want standalone sentences that you ...


20

Write the First one, then see if it's really a problem: Before you start to panic, I'd actually sit down and start writing. As you do, figure out what the central theme of the story is, then ruthlessly eliminate everything that doesn't support that. If it's not completely critical to the plot, cut it. That's just good focus. Now see if the material REALLY ...


19

To echo the comment from F1Krazy, you only need knowledge of quantum physics if your story depends upon quantum physics. You could write about information technology, orbital mechanics, synthetic biology, or a dozen other topics without ever mentioning (or understanding) quantum mechanics. While there are many different ways to write fiction, it would seem ...


19

What kind of land is it? No man is an island, and no desolation is empty. The moon will be stark black sky against endless grainy grey wastes of fine dust and rock. Deserts will be hot and dry, with blowing sand and dead brush, dried up river beds and alkali lakes. A steppe would be open, with grass matted down from perpetual winds. The artic would be ...


18

Who told you it's bad to rewrite a story? That's terrible advice. No one ever publishes something without a ton of rewrites, and many well-known writers revisit similar themes over and over. It took me a long, unproductive time to realize that writing is a process, and that you have to embrace it. You only get better by doing it. You can't produce something ...


18

You can do this, but I think you have to ask what you're hoping to achieve by doing so. When you say: The obvious answer is usually "as long as you have a compelling / interesting / engaging enough story / character then it's OK to have an unlikable character", but this suggests that all other things being equal, your character should be likable. ...


17

You can (must, really!) be passionate about what you write, which inevitably ends up with you being emotionally attached to and invested in it. But you gotta be Abraham with Isaac. Love it, but willing to sacrifice it in the name of good story telling. Doesn't mean you care about it any less, you just have to be brave enough to be mean to it in SPITE of that ...


17

In English, at least, there's a specific scoring procedure for determining "reading grade level". This is based on things like sentence length, total vocabulary (count of unique words), average word length, and so forth. The use of the word "grade", however, is a little misleading, because few adults not in scientific or engineering ...


17

Not at all. It's not the usual, but the fact is that the hero being the one to fight and defeat/kill the villain is not strictly necessary. Look at The Hunger Games. I think everyone was completely sure Katniss would eventually be the one to kill President Snow. Alas, that wasn't the case. And it was surprising because the novels prepared us for that, it ...


14

Purdue OWL gives a great definition of the concept of a "paragraph": Paragraphs are units of thought with one adequately developed idea. In other words, paragraphs are not just clusters of sentences, but instead ideas. The length of the paragraph, therefore, represents how much you develop the idea in the paragraph, and the division of paragraphs ...


14

I know you said this is based on an ancient Roman custom, but the way you describe it - a longer name used in formal settings and a shorter version used among friends and family - makes it sound like "Odaenathus" is his real name and "Odainat" is a nickname. This, to me, feels similar to how a character in a modern novel might be called &...


14

This can work, but it depends on your story The quality that makes a protagonist the protagonist is that their decisions are the primary drivers of the plot. There is a fair bit of nuance to that statement (for further reading I recommend the Writing Excuses episode Hero, Protagonist, Main Character ), but the short version is that generally speaking, if ...


13

Add "fluff" which actually adds to your work: Add "fluff" which helps the reader to learn more about your characters. Who they are, where they are from, how their life situation looks, etc. Add "fluff" which helps the reader to better understand the world in which your story takes place (to the extend that's relevant for the story). Add "fluff" which sets ...


13

You should first think (even if you don't explicitly tell it to the reader) how such communication will happen. Some possibilities: Humans and aliens have the same language There is a universal translation device human<->alien Aliens have learnt all human languages and are able to communicate in any of them Communication actually happens through ...


13

Here are a couple of ways you can make the book harder without drastically changing the content (because it sounded like your sister loved the book story-wise). Think deeper about your theme and plot This does not necessarily mean to add plots or sub-plots. Instead, consider the origin of your plot, where you got inspiration, and how you based your ...


13

Tolkien is big on this. Smaug is (arguably) the villain of The Hobbit and is slain by Bard the Bowman, not by Bilbo, or even any of the Dwarves. Likewise, in The Lord of the Rings, Frodo ultimately fails to destroy the One Ring, and it is instead Gollum's obsession with it that carries it (along with him) over the edge into the fires of Mount Doom, defeating ...


12

You cannot stop people from drawing comparisons between your work and earlier, similar works. Readers are going to do it no matter how original you strive to be. You cannot cover up an influence that actually exists in your writing, because people familiar with the original ideas have a bias for recognition of those same ideas. It sounds like what you're ...


12

You could add a prologue that tells the backstory of what made her decide to join the militia, then skip directly to the story itself where she's already part of the group. Alternatively, you could start in media res and add flashbacks to explain the backstory.


12

An "antagonist" is just someone who gets in the way of the protagonist reaching their goals. Someone can be an "antagonist" without also being a "villain". (And even villains often have some good qualities, or well-intentioned motives or logic behind their actions. The majority of "bad" people aren't just "evil ...


12

Given that most characters in the Lord of the Rings books have at least two names, and that it is successful, I would see no problem. Keep the use of each name local to the appropriate scene. And, drop in the occasional reminder to the reader that the character has two names. Indeed, in your case where the names are simply cultural variants, it should be ...


12

First in, Last out A good rule of thumb is to resolve your major conflicts in reverse order that they are introduced. For example, if your story starts with a dragon attack, and while dealing with that you protagonist has a fight with their partner, then you should resolve the relationship issue before slaying the dragon. Your ongoing conflicts provide a ...


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