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 ...


59

If this detail is important enough that readers should get it, you can have your characters make guesses at the truth close enough that (at least some) readers can connect the dots, while the characters can't and remain puzzled. For example, two especially educated explorers in your world could discuss the plants, and how all other plants they know need ...


43

+1 Stephane. My own take is that if you are mentioning something like the weather, an emotional state, an article of clothing, a weapon, anything, it should have consequences in the story. So yes, describing winter in your story does have consequences, a forgotten coat creates some hardship, a form of conflict that sustains interest in the story during a ...


43

Such characters are often found, from the works of Jane Austen to those of Tolstoy. People are perceived as what they appear to others either through actions or words. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet comes to believe that Mr Darcy is arrogant and not worth her time, but she later realizes her error. Quiet people who do not seek to please the ...


42

Don't describe the character's body. Let the action and the other characters do it for you. "Have you met Lydia yet?" "No, why?" John and Andy exchanged a knowing look. "Let me just say that once you do, you'll forget all about what's-her-name". Later Without any apparent shame, John and Andy leered at Lydia as she stormed off. "Man! ...


42

Describe them. There's nothing wrong with mentioning that he is black. However, in that segment, you're missing an opportunity to actually describe them, which will both make for a more interesting read, and illustrate his ethnicity. E.g. "I walked towards the trio. They were engrossed in a spirited conversation; it was as though they'd known each other ...


40

You have made a common mistake about world-building: believing that it all has to go on the page. World-building is for you, the author, to help you craft a story in a setting that feels real and unique, even though fictional. The actual details that make it to the page are only what the characters and reader need to know. Knowing details like the actual ...


38

You have a few choices here: 1. You can group each person's actions together more (I've also edited a couple errors). The tall figure was overwhelmingly tall. It stood in the corner of the room then moved to the opposite side of the room and started palpating the wall, as if it was looking for something. Then it started laughing loudly and ...


35

If you were describing a human being, you wouldn't say "she had two arms, each the same length and ending just below her hips." That description is assumed for everyone (if it's wrong for an individual, we expect the author to point it out). But her arms could still be strong, muscular, tanned, scarred, pale, freckled, hairless, or carrying something. By ...


35

Welcome to Writing SE - great first question. There is nothing wrong with being silent on race. You have a character who is - presumably - fully fleshed and three dimensional and that is what matters. Readers love to imagine characters and not mentioning her race allows them to imagine her as they will. You say that you have hints so those who pick up on ...


34

First, let me start by saying...wow! Your command of the English language is impressive. Some people think purple prose can be boring and unnecessary, but when done well, I think it can really make plain words come alive. Considering we're always told that good writing requires you to cut out the excess fat however, that usually means doing away with all ...


34

A few points, in no particular order: "A black man" paints a very different picture from "an elderly black gentleman" or "a tall, black-skinned young man". In the first case, the skin colour is the only thing the narrator sees about the man. That's a bit disconcerting if you look at it like that. In the other examples, skin colour is one of many ...


34

Personally the dissonance whenever I have imagined a character for hours and maybe thought about their stories throughout some days because I can't read a book straight in one go is the biggest problem. It's very irritating because some part of me wants to scratch all that I have thought about through the time and rebuild it to have the same image as the ...


32

I have had many friends from the Middle East and their skin tones ranged from essentially white to soft brown. I found a more telling feature that seemed to set them apart were some slight similarities in facial features. Mention of the MC’s skin tone need not be made. Your character could notice that others are paler than he or darker than he. You could ...


32

I'm finding your use of "Black" and "White" as character names to be distracting. I realize that it's meant to be more straight-forward to use the chess sides as names, but it throws me off. Give them names, give them genders (different genders is helpful for following things if it otherwise doesn't matter). Why? Because your reader cares about the ...


32

Jane Austen is the master of Free Indirect Speech, a 3rd-person style where the narrative voice becomes the direct thoughts of a character. In your example it would work something like: John hated them. Slimy, wretched creatures! It's an immediate, emotional style, that bypasses the "He thought to himself…" and states the character's opinion as ...


32

Dialogue quotes are for things a character actually says. If your character says "hahaha" then fine. But I've never heard anyone do that. You might get a single "ha!" but that's an exclamation not a laugh. Or someone might say "ha ha" (or even "ha ha ha") sarcastically. Again, not a laugh. If you want to tell your readers that your character laughed ...


31

This depends on the narration. If you have a third person omniscient narrator then they usually would describe things in a fair and even way. Most modern writing though does not use an omniscient narrator. Most writing is done in third person limited. In third person limited the camera stays consistently over a specific character's shoulder for often at ...


30

Attempting To Keep Readers' Minds Inside Our Story As authors we attempt to do everything we can to keep our readers' minds in our story. In most stories, as authors, we also want to disappear so the reader can forget she is even reading. In order to do that we create a setting such as 1400s England or whenever/wherever. We do our best to describe the ...


30

You're looking for sophistication in the wrong places. The thesaurus is all well and good, but you want variable sentence lengths and structures, proof of a command of the grammar of the language more than its lexicon, and a distinctive voice or two. Is one character narrating? How they speak there and in dialogue each say something, and can differ. The way ...


28

Elaborate or remind, but try not to repeat yourself. Let's say you introduce a character early on in your story: Protagonist opened for a handshake, but Character simply stared at their hand, as if it were too much effort. They looked miserable, with dark messy hair, washed out clothes and scuffed shoes. Then, you meet the character again. It has been ...


25

When describing the scenery, your goal isn't only to convey dry information (there are houses, there are trees, etc.). Your goal is to evoke some emotion, some feeling. Your key to extending the description of the scenery is therefore in what feeling you wish to evoke. For example, I look at a desert - miles and miles of yellow dunes stretching before me. ...


24

As someone else has said, every pregnancy is different. I am currently eight months pregnant, have been pregnant before, and pretty much every woman my age I know seems to be pregnant right now, so I can give you some insights, but I'd like to also say a few things about research and writing. Research You say you're 'not going to leave home just to meet ...


24

You can look for other ways to identify the characters. For example: The tall figure stood in the corner, towering over the unmoving skinny figure in the chair beside it. It moved away from the seated figure to the opposite side of the room and began palpating the wall as if looking for something. The other figure crawled from the chair and began ...


24

Have other people comment on their appearance. If they are an underdog, a random stranger could be judgmental either to be cruel or out of ignorance. You can easily get broad strokes from an epithet: race, hair color, body type, gender appearance. It could also be a backhanded compliment (assuming they are too young to drink, for example). They might have ...


23

No, because you'd want your story to be as realistic and logical to the timeline your story is in. If you re-read that sentence, it would sound very weird because cars and swords were not used in the same time. Doing so will confuse the reader.


23

In Uprooted, Naomi Novik deals quite elegantly with this issue. First, she doesn't dump all the information at once, but sprinkles it where it's relevant. We lived in Dvernik, which wasn't the biggest village in the valley or the smallest, or the one nearest the Wood: we were seven miles away. The road took us up over a big hill, though, and at the top ...


23

It's a fine balance you're trying to strike, between "unrealistically resistant to pain", and "we get it, get on with the story". I'd say, try to use the reminders that "character is in pain" to propel the story forwards, rather than have them stall everything. For example, in The Three Musketeers, when Athos is introduced, he is gravely wounded, and in ...


22

Nerdy gobbledygook isn't actually nerdy gobbledygook - they're actually saying things using technical words, acronyms, and abbreviations. It's very similar to medical speech in that way. You'll only sound like a tryhard if you're sticking pseudo technical made up words in that don't actually mean or say anything. The first step is to figure out what ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible