116 votes

Is it acceptable to use words like "heaven" and "god" when the narrator is agnostic?

Yes, agnostics and atheists can do anything they want with religious language! I am another atheist, and a practicing scientist at a university. I don't regard any entity in any religion as real or ...
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34 votes

Is it acceptable to use words like "heaven" and "god" when the narrator is agnostic?

There are two ways religious concepts appear in speech. First, there are common expressions: "Oh my god", "go to hell", etc. Those are a natural part of our speech, we hear them all the times and do ...
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33 votes

Should a narrator ever describe things based on a character's view instead of facts?

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 ...
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31 votes
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Should a narrator ever describe things based on a character's view instead of facts?

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 ...
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  • 3,729
28 votes

Is it acceptable to use words like "heaven" and "god" when the narrator is agnostic?

This depends on the character. You're quite right to realize that the set of images a character will use, should depend a lot on that character's "inner lexicon"; on the particular imagery that ...
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  • 28k
17 votes
Accepted

Everyone is beautiful

Some people see beauty in the world outside of the perfection of conventional beauty standards that Hollywood portrays. Have your narrator fall into this category. (Okay you already decided that, so ...
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  • 4,391
15 votes

What to call a main character who changes names?

There are many ways you can tackle this question. Some considerations would be how close your narration is to the MC, how the MC thinks of themselves, and how you want the reader to think of her. Let ...
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14 votes
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Is it possible to narrate a novel in a faux-historical style without alienating the reader?

There's multiple pitfalls to consider here: The first is the Uncanny Valley concern you mention in the OP - actually being able to write in the style of the time period to a suitable level of ...
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  • 6,507
13 votes

Should a narrator ever describe things based on a character's view instead of facts?

This is called "close third-person" POV. It's kind of a hybrid where you present the world in the third-person, but from the perspective of a given character (as you would do in first person). It's ...
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10 votes

How To Write An Unreliable Narrator?

The readers only know what you tell them. If you want the reader to realize your narrator isn't telling the truth, the truth must get to the reader around your narrator. Your narrator can be caught ...
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9 votes
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What is it called when the reader is the focal point?

When the reader is the focal point, it is called second person.
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  • 376
9 votes

Is it acceptable to use words like "heaven" and "god" when the narrator is agnostic?

As Amadeus's one and other answers have pointed, atheists do use religious vocabulary in real life quite often. However, please keep in mind that anything you write can be used to convey some idea to ...
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  • 191
9 votes

Is it possible to narrate a novel in a faux-historical style without alienating the reader?

In art, there are essentially 2 ways of creating a new work in an old style. RETRO – attempts to preserve all aspects of the old style, including the themes and techniques that were appropriate to ...
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9 votes
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Describing the taste of food

The examples you bring are of food taste described badly, as @MarkBaker explains in great detail. Those descriptions fail to evoke what they're supposed to evoke, and instead take your mind to all ...
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8 votes

Switching from past to present tense to increase narrative speed?

No, you can only do that if you're making some sort of break or shift in narrative style. If the story switches to a dream, for instance, or if the characters enter a Fae realm or another universe ...
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8 votes

Should the narrator use pseudonyms in writing?

Use the real name. I do this all the time, in my current writing the main character (a female) is often spying to gain information, and pretends to be a fictitious person to do it. My narrator ...
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8 votes
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Effectively conveying an unreliable narrator

Prove her wrong; have her contradict herself You can initially illustrate that your narrator is unreliable by having her assert that she's the last person on Earth - and then show that it is not true....
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  • 7,883
8 votes

Naming things the POV character doesn't know

Describe the scene from a person's point of view. You say this: these characters travel back in time and across the world If I were to travel back in time and across the world, then I would use ...
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8 votes

Is it bad style if the personal first person narrator of a story dies during said story?

If you're internally consistent this can work. A variety of books are first person, or a third person style that shows the character's thoughts enough that it has the intimacy of first person, but ...
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7 votes
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Tech-limited metaphors?

I think it is extremely important to keep all content of the book including the narrator not have any anachronism. This is unless it's meant for specific effect like comedy, time travel,or some sort ...
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  • 3,729
7 votes

Is it acceptable to use words like "heaven" and "god" when the narrator is agnostic?

Yes, you can. Because you do not believe in God does not mean that you don't know the concept. I am atheist and I wrote some auto-fiction where I wished to access God's Library.
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7 votes

Is it acceptable to use words like "heaven" and "god" when the narrator is agnostic?

If I say that something is stuck as tight in a rock as the Sword in the Stone, it doesn't mean that I necessarily subscribe to the literal truth of the legends of King Arthur, it just means that those ...
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7 votes
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What to call a main character who changes names?

It all depends on your narrative voice, and how sympathetic the narrator is to the character. she absolutely intends to become a new person each time, and sees herself as a "Jane" then a "Dolores", ...
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  • 24.2k
7 votes
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What should the omniscient narrator call a character?

I have a character named Alexander and the name form he thinks of himself as at any one time reflects his mood and the relationship of those around him. To his sister, he is Alex or Xander, rarely Xan ...
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7 votes
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Is the MC in first person singular always all knowing?

TL;DR: First-person protagonists are never all-knowing, but if they're telling the story after the fact, they can know things they haven't been told yet. First-person narratives come in two flavours: ...
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  • 9,126
7 votes

Describing the taste of food

Is this considered a bad writing habit, or is it all a matter of opinion? I consider it mediocre writing. I don't think it is possible to write actual taste experiences, at best you can refer to ...
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  • 91.1k
6 votes
Accepted

How does the narrator address a character who has changed her name, but only some people call her this new name?

You have a few options, all of which are (in my view) perfectly reasonable: If you're using an intimate narrative style (with access to only one character's thoughts at a time): Simply call her ...
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6 votes
Accepted

What is the technique of displaying stream of thought in third person?

Good question! This is called free indirect style. Now you know the name, you'll find lots more about it on Google. The description I've linked is probably the easiest one to start with. Hope that ...
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