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110

If I had to play out this scene from the POV of the protagonist, it would be hard to transition from "redshirt" to "heroine" in a first person narrative. She - as a person - is the heroine from the start no matter what the reader thinks. Her personality doesn't change. That's why I would play this scene out from the monster's point of view. For the monster ...


101

I've found that the main key to unfamiliar words -- and this applies to jargon in technical writing as much as it does to foreign or made-up words in fiction -- is density. The example in the XKCD comic is irritating because it can't get through a single sentence without three new words. The situation is very different if three unfamiliar words are ...


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 ...


74

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 ...


71

What pattern are you breaking? In this case, you are hoping the accumulation of other people's writing clichés will carry your opening. You want to subvert the trope, but unfortunately this trope subversion is almost as cliché. It's used when the protagonist is a strong female, and it's used when the villain is a strong female. Maybe the only reader this ...


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 ...


67

Short answer: J.K. Rowling claims never to have read a fantasy book in her life, and she did just fine. For that matter, J.R.R. Tolkien hadn't read much fantasy either. Long answer: who considers the books on your list "best" in their genre? I haven't heard anything other than ridicule for Wheel of Time and Shannara, and I'm not too fond of Harry Potter ...


62

As the wagon bounced along the rutted road, Prax was objecting to Lis's notion that they should both run away to start a new life in the city. "I can think of seven reasons that won't work," Prax said, holding up all seven fingers of his right hand. Curling in his outer thumb, he said, "First, we've never been to the city, and we have no idea if it's ...


61

There is more than one way racism can be present in a work. For example, when Star Trek have on the bridge of the Enterprise an Asian pilot, a Russian navigator and a black Communications Officer, and they all get along swimmingly, all at the time of the Cold War, the Yellow Peril and the Civil Rights Movement, the show deliberately confronts the viewers' ...


50

There are at least as many problems with "pyromagus": "Pyro-", "necro-" and "-mancy" are Greek, "magus" is Latin. "-mancy" (manteia) is a practice, a magus is a person. Magus is, originally, a Zoroastrian fire worshiper. So "pyromagus" is redundant, and "necromagus" is contradictory. Any clearly invented word will can prompt the reader to ask, "wait a ...


45

In addition to Mark's excellent advice, I would suggest: 1) Start slowly. In Game of Thrones, we start with just the Starks, and Martin adds on characters a few at a time and lets us live with them for a chapter before bouncing back to someone we already know. Granted that by book 4 you may need to refer back to the index, but that's over thousands of pages....


45

I am not on the autistic spectrum, and I confess that it is not obvious to me to what extent and in what manner you plan to characterize your character. On the other hand, I think that your problem could be common to other types of characterizations. To show that a character has certain features, for instance being on the autistic spectrum, there are some ...


44

Readers establish a sense of the story they are reading in the opening pages. That's where you set the contract. If you open with the death of this evil being, the readers will expect that being to be important and assume that the evil being will return. But if you tuck it in after the contract, maybe combine it within local lore of the world along with a ...


43

asvarans, vaspahrs, sardars and ostandars. I struggled with this for a different reason, I didn't want to invoke medieval Europe titles either, because little else in my story was like that, I didn't want to set up reader expectations of knightly chivalry that would not hold in the story. My Solution: Go Modern. I figure you are writing a Persian story in ...


42

As a female reader of SF/F who enjoys fantasy books with protagonists of whatever gender and plot, my advice is: Make it interesting. It doesn't matter if the basic plot structure is older than dirt. Your details are what make it fresh. Make the characters people I can believe in, and care about. Don't just write "a strong female protagonist." Write an ...


41

You're concerned about things being "unfulfilling if I simply make the Empire regularly make mind-boggling logical errors". And you're absolutely right. It will be unfulfilling if they make mind-boggling errors. But the emphasized point is important. It's only unfulfilling if it's mind-boggling to the reader. Which suggests an obvious answer: don't just ...


40

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Arthur C Clarke There's a reason that science fiction and fantasy are frequently shelved together - separating the two is usually a fools errand. The Dragonriders of Pern features a preindustrial society where flying, firebreathing, teleporting, and telepathic dragons defend the ...


40

Waving a wand and wiggling the fingers while magic happens is theatrics. In Faust, Goethe has the Devil make fun of a witch for being too precious and ceremonious with her magic, so you are in good company cutting out the silly hand gestures. Addressing copyright fears, wands are "stock items" in stories with magicians and wizards. No one can claim to own ...


39

This is really a version of the Chekhov's Gun problem. Things aren't in a story unless the writer puts them there, so readers tend to expect significance from important-seeming things that are mentioned. It doesn't really matter if they know the tropes or not. So the question becomes, why is this detail in here if it's not going to play an active role? Is ...


37

Plagiarism would be taking exact text from the various game manuals and representing it as your own. So don't do that. But you probably weren't going to anyway, because you want to tell a story, not publish a game log. Think of your story as being inspired by your game, but retell it as a story. When you tell a story you use the language of description, ...


37

Humans don't all look the same, dress the same, speak the same language. Why should $FANTASYRACE? So you have Legolas elves. You should also have Rhea Perlman elves. You should have Lupita Nyong'o elves. Benedict Wong elves. Peter Dinklage elves. Your dwarves can look like Gimli and Thorin, and they can also look like Michelle Pfeiffer. You should have ...


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 ...


34

The concept of the 'Magic Wand' predates Harry Potter by at least a handful of millennia. Consider the 'Rod of Circe' in Homer's Odyssey which is used to magically transform Odysseus's men into pigs. A wand appears again in C. S. Lewis' 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe', where it is the eponymous Witch's most powerful weapon. Wands are a common idea ...


33

Just because you can understand how the villain got that way doesn't mean you have to agree with the villain's actions. Most people can understand how Black Panther's Erik Killmonger turned out the way he did. (More of that discussion in my answer to this question.) That doesn't mean that the viewer has to agree that his solution is the right one. We can ...


32

It's ultimately up to you, but you don't want your ancient Persia overridden by knights. You may as well make them wear full plate armor instead of describing whatever garment was in use in that age for the sake of simplicity, but at the same time you'de be losing something valuable. It's true that it will be difficult for the reader to familiarize with a ...


32

Read authentic Christian voices Find works written by religious Christians on religious subjects, and read them. These can either be non-fiction works, or stories with religious themes. Ideally, you'll read both. Try to find a variety of voices, and consider how the authors' other demographics (and their specific denomination) will affect their voices as ...


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