Hot answers tagged

56

The phrase "cultural appropriation" can make it seem that the sole issue is just who is using the culture. From my point of view, the deeper question how good a job they're doing at representing it. Have you captured anything authentic, or is your depiction just --as is so often the case --a shallow pastiche of preexisting images? Are you doing the ...


45

Some may call it so, and they might be right, but it's of no consequence. Creating realistic and believable and sympathetic characters means that sometimes those characters have negative character traits like being sexist, mysogynsist, misandrist, ableist, dishonest, self-agrandizing -- any ist you could possibly imagine. That is because people can be these ...


44

When the main character is physically invulnerable, then that gives you an opportunity to highlight their emotional vulnerability. Address how his newfound superpowers affect his relationships with other characters. Don't threaten the main character, threaten the characters who are dear to him. Don't threaten the main character with physical injuries, ...


40

Write it. Even if it's just for you. I think this is an incredibly important and valuable question, because I hear it all the time from many of my friends. They aren't writers or authors, and they have limited professional training or experience in writing, but they have a book in them that is screaming to get out, and they need to put it on paper and bring ...


36

The reason for Acme's use is two fold: First the name has a meaning of "peak or pinnacle of achievement" which is good for any standard, but also happens to be perfect for the obsolete search algorithm of "phone books." Back in the day before the internet was accessible to the general public on their phones, the phone book (...


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 ...


31

Kind of yes? The big problem with Bury Your Gays in literature is that the gay characters' death mostly exists to motivate or evoke emotions other characters around them and they aren't characters in their own right. Your description of the plot makes it seem like the character's death was merely used to get an emotional reaction out of the audience, not ...


27

I've seen this done frequently, in well-known books, so it clearly CAN be done. With that said, I've rarely personally found it to be a good idea. The risk is that the reader gets invested in the secondary characters, and resists the move to the main ones. There's two books, by very good authors I like a lot (Enchantress of Florence, Rushdie, and Stars in My ...


27

Different people get different things from a story If you think of the audience (or potential audience) for a story like a crowd of people sitting and watching as a tv show is being filmed, not every person in that audience is there for the same reason. Some people are a fan of the star actor, some people are there because their kid is into this sort of ...


25

This seems like you have a character who is going to die at the end of your story who happens to be gay. Objectively I see zero issues with that - the only reason there is a question is because of the history of stories killing off LGBT+ characters. I guess I would say to just be careful to make this guy a real character with his own purpose, and don't kill ...


23

So character A is an ableist. No problem. Your writing should have characters that are jerks, liars, cheats, criminals, murders, and more or less bad people of all kinds and types. And some of them are called antagonists and without antagonists, you'll have problems with conflict. OR, maybe your story's conflict is about character A thinking of character B ...


22

"Assume that you have a million words inside you that are absolute rubbish and you need to get them out before you get to the good ones." That's a Neil Gaiman quote, but many other authors have voiced similar ideas. The only way to become a good writer is to write. In other words, the first book you write is going to be garbage*. But that doesn't ...


22

Hot Water: If you are going down that rabbit hole, you need to be SUPER careful. Writing in a historical period pretty much implies you stay consistent with history, except for the most trivial of details. I agree with Zeiss Ikon (+1), that going into alternative history is your safest bet. Establish up-front (possibly on the first page) that this is NOT the ...


22

Unable to be killed is not the same thing as unable to be defeated. Being captured, wrapped in chains, sealed in a box filled with concrete and dropped in the ocean may not kill the protagonist, but it should "defeat" him for at least some period of time. Also threats to others may also defeat him. A missile strike may not hurt the protagonist at ...


21

Bit of a world building answer, but in a world with fictional aspects it is best to create some ground rules the characters have to abide by (in my opinion it's always better to first create the world, then the characters and at last the story). Make it imperfect. Each time a character is resurrected, the character sustains unfixable (mental) damage, that ...


21

Sure! There's always one. This site is a great list, but here are a few: Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil) Innovative Online Industries (Ready Player One) Wayne Industries (DC) Oscorp, Stark Industries (Marvel) Union Aerospace Corporation [UAC] (Doom) Spaceley's Sprockets/Cogswell's Cogs (The Jetsons) Cyberdyne Systems Corporation (The Terminator) Zorin ...


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

I assume you mean something along the lines of Napoleon winning at Waterloo, or the British not getting caught with their pants down at King's Mountain and Cow Pens? It's usually easier to alter your story to fit the actual historical events than to stray into the (very detail-oriented) field of Alternate History. Change historical events, and don't follow ...


19

Make it ambiguous: If the woman can't tell how old he is, she may refer to him either way. If your point of view allows it, show her having an internal debate about it. If she's not sure, make a bit of a game of it. This, BTW is a great opportunity to add a description of him, and also reveal your MC's thinking and frame of reference. She obliquely tries to ...


18

Well first, let me say nothing you can do can stop people from accusing you of cultural appropriation because anyone can accuse you of anything if they want. However I can give you some tips on decreasing the chances. Mix things up: Don't just copy and paste one culture from our world into yours, but instead borrow elements from multiple cultures and ...


18

There's no definitive answer to this question, because it depends entirely on the POV character, who exists only in your mind. How would she refer to him? My own instincts align with those of @DM_with_secrets (from the comments) --an American teenager would probably describe another teenager neither as a "boy" or a "man" but as a "...


18

God Syndrome: What does Superman from the 1950's look like today? No hero or villain can stop him. He's invincible. So what do you do if you're a bad guy, and have to deal with that? What happens when lily-white conservative Ultra-gal, who's 200 years old and doesn't look a day over 20, starts beating up ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community for their '...


17

Rather than asking people if you "have" to do something, I would suggest asking yourself "why" you want to do something. As an author you can do nearly anything you want. Some things will work, some things won't, but there aren't really any hard and fast rules. Chris in his answer gave some good examples of books that broke normal ...


17

Changing history is slippery because it's a complex weave of causes and consequences, and even an expert might not know the full picture. I agree with Zeiss Ikon in their answer, the devil is in the details, and some readers will have vastly different opinions about what this or that change should entail. That's why my golden rule when fundamentally changing ...


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 ...


16

James Bond is a big fan of Universal Exports. First used in Fleming’s novels, Universal Exports operates as the cover for MI6. M is referred to as the “managing director” and Bond is a field agent. Although Fleming changed Universal Exports to “Transworld Consortium” in his novel The Man With The Golden Gun, this change was never reflected on in the films. ...


15

There are several possibilities. Paring down the number of characters in the scene. Six to twelve means that most of them aren't doing anything most of the time. Using action tags such as, "John threw his hands in the air. 'What else could we do?'" Making their speech patterns more distinctive.


14

If your plot really does require throwing 12 people in a room together, and most or all of them must actually talk at some point, don't try to write out the literal sequence of dialog word-for-word. Instead, give the reader a high-level summary of (at most) one to two paragraphs describing the conversation as a whole, and its result. If it's just "...


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

It significantly lowers all the stakes in a narrative when death isn't permanent. Even once is enough for the audience to no longer take death seriously as a threat. That can raise significant challenges for you, as a writer. You're running the risk of building a cartoonish, video-game universe, with lots of violence and gore, but no lasting consequences --...


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