Hot answers tagged

101

I don't think it's alienating, but it does press my suspension of disbelief a bit to have such a large fraction of the cast be LGBT characters. Gays are something like 3-5% of the population, with the rest of the letters being an even smaller fraction. Having a group of four LGBT characters with no heterosexual ones is unrealistic unless they are together ...


75

You can't. I mean, sure, write your book matter of fact. The advice I give out a lot. It works. But it's not just about what you say or don't say in your book, it's about the choices you make. When we've talked about diversity and racism in books we talked about how making a choice to avoid such things makes a statement. Choosing to include real-world ...


62

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

The answer I'll give you here is the same as the ones I've already given you and others: write what works for you. If these are who the characters are, then that's who they are. If you're forcing diversity, then it will come off as forced. That includes making some characters white just to be diverse. Will you alienate or even offend some white readers? ...


57

Without reading the other answers, my answer is that your premise is fine as long as you set the contract with the reader. The reader is fine with your premise if you do not promise a science-based story. Imagine this. Imagine you start your novel with the story of the navel-lotus of Vishnu. Or the bush that burned but was not consumed, of YHWH. Or the ...


56

If you don't want people rioting in the streets you should show how people are rioting in the streets in your novel - and how that way utterly fails to achieve what the people wanted to achieve. Discourage the obvious, easy ways that you already see, the horrible and dangerous paths that people may think they should walk on when reading your novel. They ...


55

Many readers definitely will skim over parts of your writing. In my experience there are three primary reasons for this. Your writing is boring or drags. If a book spends too much time describing seemingly irrelevant details, I think I can predict exactly what is going to happen, or I don't feel invested in the characters in the scene, I'm liable to skim ...


44

After the OP's edit, 4/300 characters is not "too diverse". That ratio nullifies all the answers here. In the age of Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy, it's probably not possible to be "too diverse", but robots and raccoons do not represent real people even when writers give them preach-y slogans. There's a big difference between multi-culti window-...


40

Spiderman was bitten by a spider and developed spider-like abilities. Superman is from a different planet and afraid of a glowing rock, even if this human-like creature can shoot lasers from his eyes. The Incredible Hulk is... Hulk... If you are looking for a non-comic example take a look at the Metro series. Post-apocalpyse after the nuclear war. ...


37

Harry Potter is not a wall of text. It uses line breaks, paragraphs, headings and chapters. thats the opposite of a "wall of text", which simply means "a lot of text without formatting, line breaks, paragraphs or any typesetting whatsoever". As long as you properly format your answers, long answers are not bad in any form. Start with a short summary of ...


34

Hmm. When I'm not sure about something, I like to look at some examples. All Quiet on the Western Front has the characters never win. In fact, they all die, and their side loses the war (something we know from the outset, since that's Germany in WWI we're talking about). Nonetheless, All Quiet on the Western Front has its moments of warmth: there's ...


32

One way to keep it from taking over your story is to make it unexceptional. Quite literally. Kem is nonbinary. If Kem, other characters, and the narrator don't make a big deal out of that, don't either hide it or gawk at it, and just go about their lives, you'll convey the message that this is normal in Kem's world. That part about not hiding it is ...


30

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 growing a thick skin when posting on the internet is a skill that you might need. Other than that it depends on the specifics of your fanfiction. For example ...


28

Each reader probably won't like the protagonists equally. Readers are not a monolithic group. Some will be drawn to the virtue of the good character, while others will eat up the struggles of the dark character. It doesn't even necessarily have to do with their morality, and it's hard to say what character traits will resonate with a particular reader the ...


26

The short answer is, there is no such thing as too much diversity! Especially when authorship comes from the community being portrayed. So many times mainstream (i.e., white) writers/producers/publishers will look at diversity in terms of matching percentages. So if black people make up 12% of the US population, then make 1 in every 8 characters black (...


26

All writing has political elements to it, whether you like it or not. Your question is a great demonstration of this. Some people consider LGBTQ people to inherently be (a) extremely rare, and (b) uniquely strange, fundamentally unlike cisgender, heterosexual people. Other people consider LGBTQ people to be a common, notable, substantial portion of the ...


26

No, people won't say that, not even full time working scientists (like me). I know a great deal about genetics; I've published academic articles about it. That did not prevent me from enjoying the TV series "Heroes" for several seasons. Supposedly, their super-powers were due to "genetic mutations" (including immortality, time-travel, psychokinesis, ...


25

I would say, you don't get off on a technicality when it comes to readers, so whether you are explicit in telling them it is scifi, or aliens are spaceships or super-high-tech, is all immaterial. If you expect them to figure it out, then it is not different than if you told them. Just because your characters have no concept of aliens living on other worlds ...


24

It depends on your target audience. If you are writing for adults, go with the flow and let terrible things happen as long as they make sense in your paradigm. If you are writing for young adults, you might want to pull things back a trifle. My current work is very dark and violent, but I leaven it with humor on occasion. One thing you should do if you ...


24

Novels are not a visual medium. Your readers never actually see your characters. So unless the racial background of your characters is relevant for your story, you can easily get away with never actually telling your reader their skin color or eye shape. You said that you had "forgotten about their races because it wasn't important to you". When it isn't ...


24

In Technical Writing, it's expected that readers don't want to read what you write. In fact, I used to teach with a book with that on the cover (see the notepad): (basically - Tech Writing people only read the bits they NEED for the info they need to make a decision or take action. For fiction, though, things are for pleasure, and while people may read ...


23

You should always be mindful of why a reader is reading your book. People are reading for a reason. In the case of fiction, they are reading for pleasure. People may take pleasure in reading about serious and difficult subjects. One of the functions of fiction is to provide vicarious experiences that we can use to prepare ourselves for the things that we may ...


22

Almost anything will scare off some readers in some contexts. That does not make them wrong things. It just makes the things that appeal to one person more than another. No work of art or communication should strive to appeal to anyone other than its natural audience. If someone is looking for videos, text will scare them off. If people are looking for ...


22

Mixing sci-fi elements into a mostly fantasy story has been done before. For example, Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern starts out as a typical fantasy series, and then turns out to have also been sci-fi all along (humans have come to a planet, bio-engineered dragons...). Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series is also fantasy, with hints that the world has ...


22

Are these many layers of misery inflicted upon innocents too much for a reader to handle? You must be careful here: the way you phrase that statement, you appear to be laying the blame on the reader - "the story is good, but the reader is too weak for it". Consider instead the alternative approach: the reader is good, but you have not given him enough ...


21

There is no need to justify your explanation scientifically. But. You must not, under any circumstances try to scientifically justify anything else. In effect, by making a scientifically implausible claim to establish your world, you've shifted from SF to fantasy. However, fantasy does not have to include unicorns or vampires, or anything else. Just ...


20

The only caveat I would offer to mixing SF and fantasy is not to scramble the level of technology. We are all steeped in Papa Tolkien's example of fantasy, which is Middle Ages technology and pastoral Merrie Olde England settings. This level of industrial advancement doesn't mix well with Star Trek spaceships. So there are a few things you could do to ...


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