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102 votes

How can I write about historical realities that readers mistakenly believe are unrealistic?

One of the joys in fiction is learning new things. For many readers of historical fiction, learning new details -- even contrary to their own expectation -- is a lot of the fun. So you can definitely ...
Standback's user avatar
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62 votes

How can I get 2 characters to bond while standing alternate watches?

I think the key here is in the method of communication. Whilst face-to-face, using the verbal communication, the male character appears curt and uncommunicative. But on reading his logs she finds pure ...
Surtsey's user avatar
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59 votes
Accepted

How do I write "fantasy counterpart cultures" without being accused of cultural appropriation?

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 ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
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38 votes

Do "unlimited ammo" or "bottomless magazine" tropes ruin storytelling?

There are definitely audience members will poke fun at the endless ammo. However, there are still plenty of people who won't notice, and even the first group may continue. However, you must choose ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 9,044
32 votes

How can I write about historical realities that readers mistakenly believe are unrealistic?

It might depend on the genre and style you are writing in, but from your description it seems you are mostly interested in more realistic historical fiction. If that's the case, there is nothing wrong ...
vsz's user avatar
  • 665
26 votes

How can I write about historical realities that readers mistakenly believe are unrealistic?

Add an afterword or appendix. It's my favorite part of a book. Seriously. Share your fascination with history. Explain which parts of the story are made up, and which are based on reality. Add sources ...
user24582's user avatar
  • 371
26 votes
Accepted

Do I need to create fictional places to make things work?

Yes, absolutely, don't worry about Railway fans. You make places up by "pastiche". They don't have to actually exist, in fact it is better if you invent small towns and features that don't ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 102k
24 votes
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Can ‘Stupid’ Characters Make Plot Narratives Memorable?

Terror, Cowardice, Selfishness and Greed. "Stupid" mistakes need to be understandable or the story is not satisfying. They can BE understandable if the stupidity is part of human nature: ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 102k
23 votes

Would it be believable to defy demographics in a story?

The norm is the average range. None of your examples are outside the norm, meaning they're all things people wouldn't think were unusual. You seem to be asking "do I have to write characters who ...
Cyn's user avatar
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21 votes
Accepted

Dead children in pre-modern setting

I would go with characters have dead siblings; but that happens off-screen. Showing it on-screen, and in-period-realistic, might be off-putting itself. Everything you are talking about is a ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 102k
20 votes
Accepted

How to provide realism without making readers think grimdark

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 ...
Jedediah's user avatar
  • 8,669
19 votes

Do "unlimited ammo" or "bottomless magazine" tropes ruin storytelling?

There are two major problems with the "unlimited ammo" trope. The first is realism and the second is that it affects the stakes. Realism- Readers know that, logically, a gun cannot have ...
Nyctophobia457's user avatar
18 votes

Dead children in pre-modern setting

Take cues from historical source material You've clearly already put in some research. How did contemporary people address the loss when writing about their lives? (Hint: the answer varies, from ...
Jedediah's user avatar
  • 8,669
18 votes
Accepted

How can I get 2 characters to bond while standing alternate watches?

Create a minor emergency that can be resolved only by two people working together. Perhaps the fix calls for repeated overlap every four hours between watches. Maybe each cooks for the other for ...
Ethan Bolker's user avatar
18 votes

How do I write "fantasy counterpart cultures" without being accused of cultural appropriation?

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 ...
Bryan McClure's user avatar
16 votes

How can I get 2 characters to bond while standing alternate watches?

Your schedule doesn't make sense IRL. People WILL find ways to interact and keep each other company; we are social animals. They will talk, even if their conversations are by radio. They will share ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 102k
15 votes

Would it be believable to defy demographics in a story?

Demographics is statistics. Statistics never defines individual cases. No single case can 'defy' statistics. Being beliveable is another thing though. By that we could mean 'too improbable'. But even ...
Zeus's user avatar
  • 540
14 votes

How can I get 2 characters to bond while standing alternate watches?

Other answers cover what to do if you allow your characters to meet in person. If you don't want them to see each other in person, you could use nightly logs as a vehicle for the incipient ...
Andrew Brēza's user avatar
13 votes

How can I write about historical realities that readers mistakenly believe are unrealistic?

Just be accurate and write a GOOD STORY. If your story is dry and uninteresting, no amount of research will save you. People don't buy stories for their accuracy; they buy them for entertainment. ...
Wildcard's user avatar
  • 543
13 votes
Accepted

Would it be believable to defy demographics in a story?

The first scenario is perfectly reasonable. The young woman might be urged to wait as she is so young, but the heart wants what the heart wants. A cousin of mine recently married a woman nineteen ...
Rasdashan's user avatar
  • 12.3k
13 votes

Do "unlimited ammo" or "bottomless magazine" tropes ruin storytelling?

As a minor counterpoint the the existing answers, it is also possible for realistic ammo to ruin a scene. The audience is willing to assume that certain events that don't impact the narrative occurs ...
rprospero's user avatar
  • 239
12 votes

"Real people don't make good fictional characters". Really true?

Sure! You'd be surprised how many great fictional characters were based on people the author met, people interesting enough we idiomatically call them "characters".(Well, maybe you wouldn't be ...
J.G.'s user avatar
  • 9,567
12 votes

Can ‘Stupid’ Characters Make Plot Narratives Memorable?

I would say there always is a way to make your plot slightly more logical than stretching the limits of human behaviour. Forcing your characters to make very obvious and foreseeable mistakes without ...
HorriblePerson's user avatar
11 votes

How can I write about historical realities that readers mistakenly believe are unrealistic?

This is a good case for those little out-of-character sideline blurbs at the top of each new chapter (don't know the english word - often printed in italics and blatantly not from the perspective of ...
AnoE's user avatar
  • 955
10 votes
Accepted

The advantages and disadvantages of Fantasy-time

Constraints! I would be interested in both; the historically accurate vs the "alternative history" or "general past" setting. I'd also suggest there is a spectrum; at least I see ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 102k

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