73

I simply let my character survive a wound that he shouldn't have survived, and then left a note at the bottom about what would have really happened. As a reader, this would break my immersion and ruin the story, everything after that is BS, I know it, the author knows it, and did it anyway. Change the plot point. Change the injury to something crippling ...


40

You don't necessarily want or need flashbacks and you don't necessarily need the reader to like the character who died in an intimate way where they actually know who that character was. What you want is for the reader to understand what the lack of this character has done to the world and to see other people who for good reason miss that character. An ...


35

Young protagonists are often presented as orphans, because it gives a plausible reason they might be fending largely for themselves. For adults, on the other hand, there are many possible other reasons parents might be offstage --many books about adults simply never mention the parents. However, loss of parents is probably the most devastating, emotionally-...


33

When I was a kid, I was bullied a lot, and I don't usually see accurate depictions of bullying in the media. The bullying I suffered was mostly verbal, but some was physical. What adults don't really understand about physical bullying is that it's more about physical intimidation than actual fist-to-face contact. A lot of the physical bullying composed ...


31

Sometimes writers make mistakes. Sometimes they didn't know something. Sometimes they chose to ignore a fact because it got in the way of their story. This is so common, TV tropes has a whole family of tropes related to the phenomenon. Of particular interest to you would be Artistic License - Medicine with all its subtropes, and Critical Research Failure. ...


28

(A) In a humourous short story about Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, Bertie is talking about a situation involving two strangers and Jeeves suggests referring to them as A & B. When another stranger enters that situation, Jeeves suggests "We will call him C, sir" and Bertie says, "Caesar is a good name". Bertie can write this because he's relaying a story ...


23

That's totally nonsense. Stupid gender category thinking. Just ignore statements like this one. The truth is that many women do not think (because of this nonsense) that men can write fiction for women (probably because they think men do not understand women). Therefore male writers use a female pseudonym if they want to sell romances and stuff where the ...


22

Many authors do include that kind of information outside of the story itself. Typically it goes in a foreword or afterword, which are essays the author finds useful to include with the story that can contain almost anything, including the acknowledgements section (usually separate). These are directed to the reader, often in a conversational tone. I imagine ...


20

Throughout your book, you, the author, are continually making promises to the reader about the ending of your book, most notably (a) in your choice of genre, (b) at the beginning of your book, and (c) what happens close to the end. You don't have to keep all those promises, but if you want happy readers, you had better know what promises you are making and ...


19

Realism means variety, because real life isn't all one thing To some degree, you've answered your own question: I want there still to be hope in the story after these two events happen If a little kid's parents die, show him sometimes forgetting to mourn and having fun instead. If petty nobles end up ruling their fiefs unsupervised, show some of them ...


18

There are two questions hiding in your question, 1. Can the POV character not be the character who's most active? Consider Sherlock Holmes as an example. Watson is the POV character, the story is told in first person by Watson, it's Watson's opinions and emotions we share. But Watson is passive. It's Holmes who is active, it's Holmes who is interesting, it'...


17

Your readers only want to read a scene if it moves the plot forward, adds to a character's experience or inner life, or is just plain entertaining. Realism doesn't mean a character gets up to use the bathroom just because nature came calling. It means that sometimes in the middle of a 3-hour meeting with no breaks, the anxiety that comes from needing to ...


17

You never want to slow down the pace of a story. Pace is everything. But pace is not about rushing to the exits. A pace is a comfortable speed at which to see all the scenery and experience everything that the journey has to offer. If the pace feels too rushed, this is not about the speed per se, it is about missing the key experiences of the journey. The ...


17

I personally think "dead parents" as an explanation for why a character might act outside of the "norm" is just lazy writing. People do insane things in life with both parents in tact and likewise, people lose both parents and live completely normal, healthy lives. Explore your characters deeper. Go deeper. Make more sense of their world. "Dead parents" ...


16

I don't understand this fear of using certain kinds of words. Yes, you can use contractions. Yes, you can use adverbs. Yes, you can use "bookisms" (alternatives for said which give additional information, like hissed, muttered, shouted). I'll even allow the occasional split infinitive if the circumlocution to avoid it sounds ridiculous. Bookisms and adverbs ...


16

Greed can be an inciting event. People go looking for treasure, to escape poverty. Knowledge can be an inciting event. Suppose the MC knows she and her village are powerless to confront an evil overlord, but in having these dreams of a trapped goddess she believes are real visions, the MC realizes if she can save the goddess and unleash her power, the ...


16

"I simply let my character survive a wound that he shouldn't have survived" Real people do this all the time, one of my favourites was a guy in Alaska who accidentally severed his own jugular vein with a chainsaw and then proceeded to walk 20 odd miles to the nearest town for help. He should have been unconscious almost instantly and died a few moments ...


15

This is written for a general audience. Some knowledge the askee demonstrated a fundamental understanding of will be re-explained for sake of novice writers. You ask what level of telling is acceptable to reveal character motive, and what specific rules might exist for making such a decision. The high level answer is that a certain amount of telling is ...


15

This is not only done, but is a staple of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire - all books' prologues and epilogues have a one-time POV character that dies by the end of it. So yeah, it's perfectly acceptable.


14

Most men's hearts are brave in the moment in the firefight. It's the minutes and hours waiting,that's when fear creeps in. This is the great thing about static scenes. This is where the characters wait for the next thing to happen, but often these moments can be more trying than the action. The conflict here is often internal. Show the characters struggling ...


14

It is not necessary to run different character arcs chronologically synchronized. However, it is important not to create a false impression that these arcs are synchronized. For example in "A Song of Ice and Fire" (which I refer to quite often) first 3 books George Martin tried to run all chapters chronologically. Next book was split into two ("A Feast for ...


14

A really good example of this is The Martian, where the key event for Watney being stranded on Mars is a violent storm which damages equipment, injures Watney and threatens the lander. Andy Weir was perfectly aware that Mars does not in fact have winds which would match the novel's events - whilst winds on Mars can be extremely fast, the thin atmosphere ...


13

You don't need to show the characters thoughts to know what they are thinking. Well written body language should be enough. Instead of portraying standard card playing behavior, give your characters individual tells and gestures. Player A sips water instead of liquor. Player B twists his wedding band, it's missing a stone. Player C keeps staring at ...


12

The answer to this question really depends on which scale you are talking about: do you want to slow down a paragraph? A scene? A chapter? The whole story? You talked about the story in general in one of your comments, so I'm going to focus on that. Here are a few ideas: Reflection If you're following the structure of scene and sequel by Dwight Swain (see ...


12

@MarkBaker and @Cloudchaser are correct, in most situations you can just tell the reader: "It seemed like a dream, but it wasn't." However, what if you have a first-person narrator? Or a close third-person perspective, such that the narrator could conceivably either fooled, or lying? What then? You might not realize it, but you can whisper the "Word of ...


12

Porn in general shows something for the excitement of it in and of itself. In a story, authors stray into porn when what we are showing does not advance the story, build character, or have any ramifications or consequences to what happens later in the story. Generally, showing sex (or torture) itself is not that necessary, the specifics of what went where ...


12

Ditch the omniscient viewpoint Tension comes from the unknown possibilities. By using an omniscient viewpoint the readers don't feel any of the tension the characters do because they already know the outcome. Instead I would use an 'over-the-shoulder' 3rd person view. You don't need to get inside a characters head, just show things from their point of view....


12

+1 to Ash, and I'd like to add another feature: lack of healthy life. If you really want to show that an environment is hostile, show that nothing pleasant can thrive there. Here are some suggestions for describing a city. Plants: No flowers (not even in window boxes). Any trees they might have planted are either dead or dying. Animals: With the exception ...


12

The easiest way to accomplish this is to imitate the style of real-word mythology. There are various different sources, which all have different styles and different symbolism. In the Western world, probably the most well-known stories are those of Greek mythology, Nordic mythology, and of the Old Testament. Given that you have an oracle as part of your ...


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