Hot answers tagged

77 votes
Accepted

Is the first page of a novel really that important?

YES, the first page is vitally important. But probably not in the way you think. Don't bring the "thriller" up first. The first page (and first sentence, and paragraph) is important in the ...
user avatar
  • 91k
61 votes

Should I add racism in my book's world or have my world have no racism?

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, ...
user avatar
53 votes

Why write a book when there's a movie in my head?

Screenplays are collaborative, whether you like it or not. Actors will say the lines. Directors will alter the tone. The photographer will create their own vision. And the producers will hire other ...
user avatar
  • 24.2k
50 votes

Can a successful book series let the bad guy win?

It is perfectly fine for your story to end with the "bad guy" winning. Consider for example George Orwell's 1984: He loved Big Brother Complete and utter defeat. 1984 is one of last century's ...
user avatar
43 votes

Can a writer joke with the reader without breaking the fourth wall?

It might be jarring for the reader if it happens in the middle of the text and your text is otherwise in the perspective of the character and not directed at the reader. It is often better to have the ...
user avatar
  • 601
41 votes
Accepted

Is it okay to use "It was all just a virtual world / dream" for a plot twist?

To expand on what @Mary said, the reason people don't like the "it was all a dream" twist is that it cheapens what came before. Imagine if you, the reader, have gone through all emotion of ...
user avatar
  • 1,740
40 votes
Accepted

Promoting controversial opinions in a work of fiction

A work of fiction that exists only to promote a particular point of view is not actually fiction, but rather a polemic. Some of these have been successful and influential, from Plato to Rand, but ...
user avatar
37 votes

Is it time to start closing up my novel?

Finish the story. Don't worry about the word count. When it comes time to do revision, rewriting, and editing you can look at ways of possibly splitting it into two or more volumes. Stories need ...
user avatar
  • 1,115
34 votes

Is it considered lazy writing to have a dry prelude at the start of a book?

That Star Wars crawl is affectatious nonsense. It is there for the same reason Harrison Ford's voice-overs were in the original cut of Blade Runner. They borrowed a stylistic element from Old ...
user avatar
  • 24.2k
33 votes
Accepted

Do I really need to have a message in a novel to appeal to readers?

A message and a theme are not the same thing A story need not have a coherent message to be successful. Look at Disney's take on The Little Mermaid - what was the message? If you sign away your ...
user avatar
  • 7,883
33 votes
Accepted

Are illustrations in novels frowned upon?

There are exceptions to the "no illustrations" trend. For example, Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel is filled with black-and-white illustrations reminiscent of the wood engravings ...
user avatar
32 votes
Accepted

Describing a chess game in a novel

I'm finding your use of "Black" and "White" as character names to be distracting. I realize that it's meant to be more straight-forward to use the chess sides as names, but it throws me off. Give ...
user avatar
32 votes

Is it offensive to kill my gay character at the end of my book?

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 ...
user avatar
  • 4,327
31 votes
Accepted

Can I be a writer, with a mental illness?

It is totally possible to become a writer with a mental illness, even Schizoaffective Disorder. I'd suggest that you may have greater self-awareness and coping strategies as a result. Time Commitment ...
user avatar
  • 1,131
31 votes

Should the name of a mythological creature be capitalized?

Yes, if it's the Grinch A unique creature, which is the Manananggal (effectively THAT creature's name), should be capitalized. No, if it's a fairy Even if your creature is rare, if you are likely ...
user avatar
  • 7,883
30 votes

How to handle a massive info dump post-ending?

Expanding my comment into a full answer as OP indicated it was helpful. I can’t drag the antagonist into a Poirot/Sherlock Holmes style Q&A as he's already in jail. Sure you can. Just have the ...
user avatar
  • 9,126
30 votes

When is a lack of long, sophisticated words to describe an otherwise simple concept bad?

You're looking for sophistication in the wrong places. The thesaurus is all well and good, but you want variable sentence lengths and structures, proof of a command of the grammar of the language more ...
user avatar
  • 9,527
30 votes

How do I introduce dark themes?

Foreshadowing is your friend. Your example of Harry Potter isn't quite right. Chapter One is titled The Boy Who Lived. Now that's a bit ominous. Magic is hinted at on page 1* and is outright on ...
user avatar
29 votes
Accepted

What are the signs of accidental self insertion?

Neither being powerful, nor reflecting the author is an insurmountable problem for a character. What you want to avoid is a character who faces no significant problems on her path to success, whose ...
user avatar
29 votes
Accepted

How to avoid writing irritating fan fictions?

Depending on the forum you post your fanfiction you will get those comments no matter what you do. It's a sad fact, but there are many people out there who just want to make others feel miserable and ...
user avatar
  • 5,586
29 votes

How to derive a first sentence from a story?

This is an odd question, but not for the reason you likely think I say that. Let me explain. It doesn't matter how good your opening line is, if it isn't completely in line (or in tune) with the rest ...
user avatar
  • 5,431
29 votes
Accepted

I'm afraid of quashing the hopes of a new writer

As a frequent beta-reader, often for friends, I struggled with this question -- and I'm pretty happy with the answers I've figured out. Don't pronounce judgment; help the author level up It makes a ...
user avatar
  • 28k
29 votes

Is the first page of a novel really that important?

The first page of your novel is vitally important, but not necessarily because the action starts there. The first page, and first several pages, should: set your tone and reader expectations. In a ...
user avatar
  • 3,097
28 votes
Accepted

Why write a book when there's a movie in my head?

Screenplays are also very difficult to sell, for a first-timer. Books are quite a bit easier. Unlike a screenplay, a book is in its final form, and relatively easy to produce, big publishers can do it ...
user avatar
  • 91k
27 votes

How to open a novel?

The way you open a novel largely depends on what kind of novel you're writing. If you're writing a humorous novel, there should be something humorous right on the first page. Look, for example, at ...
user avatar
26 votes
Accepted

Should I write a novel if I haven't read many?

Many will say what you're striving to do is impossible because you won't have seen enough tricks of the trade in use, but I'll do my best to suggest a way forward that doesn't boil down to, "read N ...
user avatar
  • 9,527

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible