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131

You're looking at this from the wrong side. Your goal isn't to include or to represent. Your goal is to tell a story. The story should contain all the elements that it requires, and nothing but the elements it requires. "Including" anything that isn't useful to the story in any way is called 'shoehorning', and is not a good practice. Is your story served in ...


91

I will disagree with others. I am a professor involved in AI, and the easiest way for you to think about a super-AI is to understand what Intelligence IS. Predictive power. Intelligence is the ability to discern patterns (in behavior, in sound, visually, by touch, even by smell) and use those patterns to predict other facts or high probabilities: What will ...


78

The essay is from a 1971 symposium on women in science fiction. The 3 actions are defined in relation to the plot, not the character's psychology. Purposeful Actions are what we'd call "character agency" today. It is the character's actions that directly or indirectly effect the plot. Habitual Actions show the character's normal state or routine. ...


78

OK. This will be like all the other things we are learning. You fill your tool box with every tool you can find, and use all of them. In this case you are collecting tools to make your dialog sound natural. We are trying to reveal information to the reader, and you say you are using interrogation. Right, this is not natural. Part of natural dialog is ...


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 ...


76

You have read books like this, or at least are familiar with books like this: Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls is set in Spain, and it is indicated, repeatedly, that the dialogue is in Spanish, in fact in a particular dialect of Spanish. The main character's accent is even discussed. But the dialogue is written entirely in English. Romeo and ...


73

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 ...


72

Sure, take the example of the Library story arc in Doctor Who, we see River Song tell the Doctor his name by way of convincing him she's trustworthy but we don't hear it. The audience only know what she told him because she says she's going to tell him and only know it's the right name because of the Doctor's reaction to it. The same is possible in written ...


71

Have the narrator tell the action in that place, not show it. Then show Old Man's reaction. Example: "Nothing gives you the right to do this." Old Man sat back down in his chair, hoping Taylor would take the hint and go. Instead, he bent over so close Old Man smelled beer and onions on his breath. Then Taylor whispered something Old Man had last heard ...


65

The convention is usually that the resolution of the story is the resolution of the mystery, but if you want the mystery to remain unresolved, what is it that gets resolved at the end of the story? Why does the story end when it does? You might have your protagonist coming to terms with what he's done and with the idea that he doesn't know what really ...


61

The narrator knows about the thoughts. And the narrator will know that the thoughts are illogical, and can distance himself/herself from the thoughts. Of course that only works if the narrator isn't the villain in first-person. For example, you might write something like: Dick thought about his problem. How on earth could he lock a door that did not even ...


60

Shortly after I took up fencing, I had an epee bout with the long-time county champion. I expected to get thrashed and everyone in the club expected me to get thrashed. However, I won the first couple of points accidentally by having my epee point exactly where he exposed his wrist when lunging. I recognised this fault of his and he didn't and went on to ...


59

Since the subject matter on which the character is an expert is specific to the world that you created and not related to any real world knowledge or faith, you already know everything there is to know on the subject. The problem is, there is not yet a lot to know because you haven't invented it yet. You need to make some decisions about how resurrection ...


59

Hard-to-pronounce names suggest a different culture. If War and Peace had its characters named not Andrei Nikolayevich Bolkonsky and Pierre Kirillovich Bezukhov, but Andrew Bolk and Peter Bek; or if the characters of the Kalevala were named not Väinämöinen and Joukahainen, but Van and John, that would ruin my immersion. It would break my immersion because ...


56

You have a realistic effect that follows from the situation that you've put your character in, but that effect isn't interesting, nor does it affect the story in any significant way. The solution is have it happen off screen. You have the MC eat, realistically they'd have to use the toilet. But you don't necessarily write about them using the toilet, right?...


54

To answer this question, I think it would be useful to look at The Lord of the Rings. We are explicitly told that Frodo is "chosen" for the task: Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, book 1, chapter 2 - The Shadow of the Past) Yet we do not feel, at ...


50

Generally, @MichaelKjörling and @HenryTaylor are right. Let me, however, look at the issue from a slightly different perspective. If you explain something, it has to make sense. If you don't explain, it can be accepted as a black box. Consider, for example, Asimov's Robot series. The robots have a "positronic brain", and obey the Three Laws of Robotics. ...


49

You do not have to preach they are bad. They are bad because they harm others in some way. If you wish to show reality, show that harm, whatever it may be, beginning or taking place or having already taken place with previous victims. Don't tell us they are bad, show us they are bad. As the narrator, you can neutrally tell that tale. As an author, you won't ...


49

Show his religious practices more and his explicit beliefs less. What does a devout Catholic do? Probably he doesn't spend all day talking about his beliefs; instead he lives them. He tithes. He fasts on Fridays. He attends mass daily before going to work (or wherever he spends his days). He teaches in Sunday school. He studies self-defense but it's ...


48

Things are not as they seem. Time and again. What you present to the MC is not what it seems to be. It requires your imagination to figure why it isn't. You can conceive of a problem: Then try to imagine a way what looks like a problem is NOT, or is actually an opportunity, or is actually the way things should be. The monster is not a monster. Or it is a ...


47

That's a substantial bit of revision. It can definitely be done, but the question is if that's what you want to prioritize right now. During a first draft, there will be a lot of things you'll want to go back and fix. The problem is, go back for enough of them, and you'll stop making any progress at all. So my first suggestion would be: don't go back yet. ...


47

You only need to present as much information as is necessary for the plot. Let's use the classic SF technology, Faster Than Light travel. If all it's doing in terms of the plot is moving the characters from A to B, no further elaboration is necessary. On the other hand, if the method is important, you need to get into it more. To use an example I've read ...


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....


44

Jane Austen routinely did what it sounds like you want to do: she kept the big places intact (London, Bath), but the estates mentioned in her stories (e.g. Pemberly) are fictional, with only their general location given. The estate was fictional, but culturally it was set in its time, in England, which is all that she needed. Similarly, you can invent a ...


44

Skipping scenes is usually quite welcome in a novel. Sometimes you don't want to see every step. But the amount of skipping you propose is pretty jarring. You will break your readers out of their immersion in your world if you do something like that. Especially if you do it over and over. The way to make it work is just as you say, to fool the reader ...


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