New answers tagged

1

Picture the following situation: a passenger aircraft nearly 300 people on board suffers a catastrophic failure, making the plane almost unflyable. The flight crew are struggling to maintain control, to somehow get the plane on the ground while also knowing that they have to keep it away from populated areas because if it does go down, if they lose their ...


0

The most fundamental building block of a novel is the scene. A scene either reveals part of the plot or something about the characters; after reading the scene's last sentence, the story has 'advanced' by some measure. Scenes come in two varieties; 'action' and 'reaction'. As their names suggest, action scenes set up action, and in reaction scenes the ...


2

There's more you can do with a trope than play it straight or subvert it. You can play with it in various ways: invert it (which you did), parody it, lampshade it, exploit it, and much much more. And you can avert it - that is, the trope just isn't present in your story at all. There are countless tropes you are averting in your writing, because there are ...


2

When in The Lord of the Rings Tolkien writes ‘But it is a heavy burden. So heavy that none could lay it on another. I do not lay it on you. But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right; and though all the mighty Elf-friends of old, Hador, and Húrin, and Túrin, and Beren himself were assembled together, your seat should be among them.’ (...


11

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 ...


4

A trope is something that's been explored in so many books or other forms of entertainment that it has slipped into the collective unconsciousness. They can be useful storytelling tools, but if you let the tropes do the heavy lifting you end up with cliched characters or a predictable plot people have read a dozen times before. You can subvert the trope by ...


4

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 (...


3

My main concern is this part: I didn't mention these things anywhere else in the novel. Didn't give the reader details about these lilllahi birds, Bettornim flowers, gaijamu flowers, etc. What I really love about fantasy books, is if I get to remember small recurring elements. I would not immediatly say what those lilllahi birds look like. But if you ...


11

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 “pft” might fit the bill. Max asked Jill whether she’d finished the homework. “Pft. Are you kidding? It’s not due for another week!” She said. Obviously, this works best for the ...


5

Closest I can think of, though perhaps a little archaic: "Harumph, you're quick on the uptake I take it." But, like DPT, I would be more inclined to keep it out of dialogue tags.


17

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."


3

Is it a good idea to leave those things to the reader's imagination? No. This is not good writing, to compare something we know to something we don't know is backwards, at best the reader will mentally reverse it, and try to imagine a flower that looks like a nose, or gems that look like purple eyes. I wouldn't even count on that, I wouldn't do this AT ALL....


0

In my experience with creating characters, I have found that writing out all their traits in a concrete manner is not the way to go, because real people are not always consistent. Tying them down to an archetype also does more harm than good, most of the time. You seem as if you’re formulating patterns before treating your characters like real people. This ...


5

It's okay to have words and alien creatures that your readers don't know about, but if your description cannot teach readers something new or inspire them to picture something, it is empty verbiage and has no purpose. Why should readers care if something looks like a gaijamu flower? Why does the POV care? If nobody cares, there's no point in mentioning it....


27

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 ...


13

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 ...


6

Your readers are not going to imagine what LILLAHI birds look like. At best, this sort of technique calls forth the impression of an exotic location from their memory. For a westerner, for instance, references to exotic birds, gems, and flowers, may call to minds old Hollywood movie scenes set in India or Arabia. And that may be entirely satisfactory to the ...


0

Good writers pay it forward :) Scrap everything and start something new with the same basic idea. NOPE. Start to rewrite the same novel, and hope it gets a normal flow till I find a climax. SOUNDS LIKE WRITERS BLOCK. Continue from the last word I wrote in the novel (I have no idea how to do this). WHY NOT GIVE IT A GO OR TWO? Do not post on social media ...


2

Mysteries: Since you have the friend-group, you can crowd-source some of them. List some of the problematic mysteries, ask how they would solve them, and then run with whatever you like best (or perhaps a new one will occur to you.) (On SpaceBattles, this collaboration is often called a Quest -- sort of an RPG, but no dice, just collaboration with one ...


6

Starting over is almost always a bad idea, especially on your first project. The same goes with rewriting. It's just like software - don't think starting over will work out better. Finish the book, and refactor. The tempation is always there with any enterprise - just starting over. It's almost always a bad decision, and it tends to make you even more eager ...


2

Have a look on this. Encyclopedia of Allegorical Literature (ABC-CLIO Literary Companion) Author: David Adams Leeming; Kathleen Morgan Drowne Publisher: Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, ©1996. Series: ABC-CLIO literary companion. Edition/Format: Print book : English Summary: "In the Encyclopedia of Allegorical Literature, readers will find more ...


0

So one of the things about Meyers-Briggs is that it's better for ascribing a motivation to a character's behavior and world view and how he or she will interact with other characters. This is similar to the DnD's alignment grid in that for each intersection of characteristics (Meyer's brigs 4 personality traits and DnD aligment's Lawful vs. Chaos and Good ...


2

Your characters have behaviours but not motivations. By defining behaviours first they always behave the same way, but by defining motivations first they can have more lifelike and distinct behaviour. You say: Aial and Koldryd share the same "neutral good", helps those around him, kind and understanding type. But without the motivation you don't have ...


5

As a discovery writer myself, I do not "plot", but I always write with an ending in mind. I do not WRITE the ending, but I have notes on how the story can be resolved, and I make sure my story will always fit that ending. Every time I finish a scene, I make sure I haven't done anything that will violate the ending I have in mind. If I have, then I either ...


4

I'm largely not a discovery writer myself, but many --perhaps most --of my favorite authors are discovery writers. It seems like discovery writers almost universally struggle with endings --for obvious reasons --and I've read my fair share of horribly disappointing endings to otherwise great books. In my opinion, the biggest crime committed by discovery ...


0

There is a psychology profiling tool used in organisations called the "Myers Briggs Type Indicator" (MBTI). My ex-partner found this tool extremely helpful in helping her creative writing. Use this page: https://www.personalitypage.com/html/portraits.html Click on one of the 16 types, read it, and use this to guide future personalities. Hope it helps.


8

About eight years ago, I began writing a fantasy novel. Then something else came up, so I put it down for about two years. I returned to the novel eventually and finished and published it. What helped me do this was the worldbuilding notes (maps, bestiary, Character descriptions, plot ideas) that I had stored. I made many changes to my original conception, ...


1

Tone and intonation can matter a lot Personality can set a tone for a character. A hero and an antihero might do the exact same things: they dress up as guards, infiltrate the Evil Overlord's base with their comedy-relief sidekick, square off against the Overlord, nearly die, discover the flaw in the Overlord's power source, dangle him off of a cliff, get ...


7

Reduce the number of your characters by combining them. Your problem isn't that your characters are all the same. It's that you have a relatively small main cast with duplicates. Personally, I dislike books with large casts. It's too much for me to keep track of, particularly if the author hasn't done the work to distinguish them. But maybe the problem ...


4

This is the first ever draft of your first ever novel. If you were able to simply pick up where you left off and bring it to a successful conclusion, you would be a phenom. The novel is a highly complex construct. The complexity may not be apparent when you read a good novel that works well. (As in so many things, when it is done well, it looks easy, but ...


4

I completely agree with Bakers post, just wanted to add on it for a bit. You say Horus and Gyvaris are unique because they're stolen, but I don't really understand that sentiment or why that should even be an issue. Simply based on what you've written in this post, the other characters don't seem terribly original either. I've seen enough anime to recognize ...


7

As @sesquipedalias says, for a discovery writer the first draft can often be about figuring out what your novel is, what you're trying to say. You say you have story threads that you don't know where to take, questions the answers to which you don't know, problems you don't know how to solve. Treat those as a writing exercise: find out the answers, solve ...


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 ...


0

It doesn't need a theme. The theme might be something people decide once you publish it. The TRUE theme might not be known til 100 years after you're dead! Sometimes themes apply cos there's only so many kinds of story in human life, so by default even real life follows themes. Or you might be trying to say something about life, about people, about ...


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 ...


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 ...


0

Not an answer here, but a point--the inciting incident is what starts the protagonist on a journey. It can mark the ActI/ActII boundary in screenwriting. It does not need to be the first plot point in the story. There can be over a dozen plot 'points' that are named and recognized--the hook is one of the early ones and happens before the inciting incident. ...


3

Start with a wind blowing through the normal world As others have stated, you need to start in the normal world because we need to understand who the main character is, how they live, what they love, what they are capable of, etc. in order to understand what is at stake as the story unfolds. At the same time, the reader is not going to sit still for ...


3

I realize I'm quite late to the discussion, but why not: Maybe you and many of the answers (even when some of them are still really good) look at the problem from the wrong angle, as I believe figuring out your plots concept or focus or theme is much more important right now - and it also tells you how to start your book. So - what is your story about? ...


0

Whatever the person is hearing is not included at all (unless it is on speakerphone), and whatever the person on the phone says is put down just like any other utterance, in quotes, not italicized, separate paragraphs, etc. If the POV character CAN hear the other side of the conversation, say on a speaker phone or just because it is loud enough, you have a ...


1

In a written work descriptive text is intended to be read, it should convey its meaning as effectively as possible and, as Accumulation has said, the purpose of the punctuation is to help make the meaning clear, not to indicate pacing. Dialogue is quite different. The reader is trying to understand the thoughts of the speaker, who cannot be assumed to be ...


0

I am tempted to say nothing makes it great, I just don't think fan fic, or stealing somebody else's universe, is great writing. That said, if the jokes are good enough and frequent enough, it could be a good comedy. The things that come to mind are Mel Brooks movies, Blazing Saddles, Space Balls, Young Frankenstein. Also the Zuckers in Airplane! But those ...


2

I think its a good idea, and it makes sense. Say a man is aware during an evil possession, and he sees the demon intentionally in front of a mirror, using his body to rape and torture the wife he loves, laughing in glee the whole time. He can't do anything about it, and he sees her, thinking it is him doing this to her, begging him, and she dies thinking he ...


7

Foreshadowing. Basically, anything you do, any coincidence, and personality quirk, that you introduce in order to move the plot in the direction you want it to go will appear as transparent manipulation to the reader if there is no precedent for it in the story. On the other hand, almost any coincidence, almost any personality quirk that you introduce to ...


5

As the other answers have pointed out the key to not breaking immersion is to have the actions be in character and consistent with previously established traits the character has. You can have a character make decisions that seem incredibly stupid either in hindsight or to the observer but that made perfectly logical sense to the character in the moment, ...


0

Yes, there is an objectively better place to start, and that is with character. This is not to say that it is the only place to start. As long as you put all the bits together in the end, it doesn't matter how you got there. However, you stand to save yourself a lot of bother if you start with character. Why? Because the function of plot is to force your ...


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 ...


9

You can't do just "dumb." You can write a mentally impaired character, like Lenny in "Of Mice and Men," that does dumb things that cause complications out of an inability to understand. Stephen King has a mentally impaired character (Tom Cullen) in "The Stand" and turns that mental impairment into a strategic asset (the bad guy cannot read his mind). ...


-1

It's absolutely fine to state the moral explicitly, as in your examples. It's also absolutely fine not to. If you DON'T spell it out, many readers won't 'get it'. Think of some of the earliest 'short stories', the parables found in the Bible and similar books of other religions. What message would you take from 'The Prodigal Son' if the moral wasn't ...


1

Maybe I'm missing something. The principle here seems pretty obvious: Keep notes. Make a list of all your characters and write down enough to remind yourself of the personality of each character. Are you looking for something more specific?


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