Hot answers tagged

59

Each time it makes sense, no more, no less. You do not need to make recalls. Consider your character's POV. When does he think about the weather ? Closing the door of my house, I looked at the sky. It will not be long before it starts to snow again. or Walking on the sidewalk, he was careful not to slip. or He looked at the landscape, beautifully ...


47

Jane Austen routinely did what it sounds like you want to do: she kept the big places intact (London, Bath), but the estates mentioned in her stories (e.g. Pemberly) are fictional, with only their general location given. The estate was fictional, but culturally it was set in its time, in England, which is all that she needed. Similarly, you can invent a ...


46

I see two separate issues here --your work, and who you are getting feedback from: There's nothing intrinsically wrong in being inspired by current events. People do that all the time, and some great work has been created that way. People's reactions to that work may be tied to their own personal experience and/or opinions about the current event, but that'...


46

Some people will believe they know how things work, even if they don't If you were to ask a highly educated person 2,000 years ago why things fall down, they'd have an answer. (It just wouldn't be a correct answer.) If you asked them what light is, they'd have an answer. Their answer wouldn't have anything to do with particle/wave thingies which (probably)...


42

+1 Stephane. My own take is that if you are mentioning something like the weather, an emotional state, an article of clothing, a weapon, anything, it should have consequences in the story. So yes, describing winter in your story does have consequences, a forgotten coat creates some hardship, a form of conflict that sustains interest in the story during a ...


37

The reader doesn't have to agree with the setting of your story: he just has to understand it. I'll basically answer with a longer version of "show, don't tell". Our society may look down on extramarital affairs and multiple partners, but the reader has to understand that this is not our society. Since the covens-clans are a big part of your setting, you ...


26

Realism is just a style: If it serves your novel better to have your MC serve with his buddies from bootcamp --or at least some of them --just make it happen. Lampshade it, or explain it away if you must, but don't be a prisoner of realism. In fact, even according to what you say, it's not unrealistic for there to be at least a core group that progresses ...


22

My answer is fundamentally similar to JonStonecash's, but comes at it from a different angle. You mentioned the following: the narrative intent behind this is to lower the reader's guard by making them laugh at how silly this is, only for them to stop and be forced to reconsider when the consequences of this “silly” magic system result in mass loss of human ...


21

I've seen this feedback to a bunch of folks lately. That's got me thinking. Here's a few things to consider. Don't describe setting bits that don't matter. Describe setting through character action. Using these two pieces, imagine the following options (neither is very good; just mock-ups): The office was roughly square in shape, with wallpaper that ...


20

The location serves the story, not the other way around. If you need to alter geography a little bit, that's fine. It's called artistic license, and everyone does it. The danger is that changing the real world risks throwing readers out of the story if they are familiar enough with the area to recognize the changes. They'll get distracted by the details, ...


20

Short answer: You should write just as much as necessary, and nothing more. Short stories are supposed to be like that - short. Even if it's a fantasy setting, maybe a wildly elaborate one, you should not describe more than you need to bring the short story to an effective, satisfying end. Any information you give should serve at least one of those ...


19

There is no topic that per se is inappropriate to write about. Great literature has been written about everything, including rape, incest, child abuse, murder, terrorism - and yes, including the victim POV, the culprit POV and others. What your family may have been referring to is not so much the topic, but the style. One thing that great literature isn't is ...


18

Easy answer: Don't include anachronistic pop culture references. "writing a geeky character who does not make such references is almost unrealistic" Well, maybe, but surely not jarringly so. I'm a geeky person. If I spent a few hours with other geeky friends and no one made any sort of reference to a science fiction movie, it's possible that that would be ...


17

I can invent it, but then it wouldn't serve the goal of a pop culture reference… Paul Verhoeven isn't everyone's favorite director, but he often interjects invented "pop media" in his sci-fi: newscasts, tv commercials, in-world propaganda. Sometimes it works and sometimes it is painfully awkward (my critique: he blurs worldbuilding and satire, and Verhoeven ...


16

The most important question is, why does it matter what the details of the magic system are? It may be important for you as the writer to know, but does it matter to the characters or the plot? For example, does the behavior of the protagonist change (or can be explained) because said protagonist has deep knowledge of the magic system. Think carefully before ...


16

Other answers have already given you good reasons why it might be a good idea to not spell out the exact details of your magic system. However, if you still want to share some background on how the magic works in your story and the only thing preventing you from doing so is that the cast doesn't know, you could do it outside of the story. A common way to do ...


15

Sometimes for me, when growing the setting first, I find it generates new characters, details and interactions that lead to a story organically growing out of the exercise. There are many ways to start putting a story together and very few are right or wrong. Still… Pros A cure for writer’s block; if you want to write but don’t know where to begin, ...


15

The advantages are not losing a large proportion of your audience, and not being accused of being a racist, a liar, a hater, a bigot, an ignorant writer, etc. If you use a real country, there will be people both attached to that country, and opposed to that country. There are real facts about that country and its history. There will be vested interests ...


15

A complaint from readers if description is not sufficient goes something like: "It felt like floating heads were talking in a white room." Readers wish to feel grounded. You don't necessarily need to do this with external detail and description (but there is a quick work around for that, below the first quote box). You can instead do it with ...


15

I think what you are being asked for is to personalize the settings. Imagine yourself walking into two places — one is place you think is dangerous and the other place is your safe-space or homey. For each of us, we might choose different places — like a biker bar and a democratic rally. The physical details — the leather, the guns, the healthcare is a ...


11

I wrote a story in which an aircraft disappears over the South China Sea. A few months later, an aircraft disappeared over the South China Sea. You might have heard about it. My point is, fiction and fact intersect. Somewhere, right now, someone is writing a story that will somehow "come true." Not because that writer can see the future (as far as we know) ...


11

settings feel irrelevant The characters, for example, are in an office, or a restaurant, or a different office at various times throughout the story ― but any of these places are interchangeable If the places are interchangeable, they are definitely irrelevant. Ask yourself why the characters are in that place. How does being there affect the story? If a ...


11

To make scenes feel different, you have to use a different set of descriptive words. For a diner, it could feel cozy and quiet, and the first thing they might notice is how warm and comfortable the diner is. For the strip club, you paint a picture of flashing lights and loud noises, music pumping through their ears. What your editor is getting at (I believe) ...


10

I face the problem myself when I dabble in future SciFi stories and settings, I like to use a "Famous 3" where the third one is an oddball that is either comically modern compared to what we see Or are obviously alien. For example, in dialog, the hero would refer to the "Three B's" of music (a real term denoting the significance of classical musicians Bach, ...


10

Ditto to Stephane and Amadeus, let me just add: I think there's a difference between blatant reminders and subtle reminders. Using your coat example, I see three ways you might say this. (a) Blatant reminder. "Jack walked out of his apartment wearing a light shirt and sandals. It was still winter. This meant that Jack should have been wearing a coat and ...


10

How do you normalize a taboo custom in a setting that most readers would not agree with? Carefully. Extramarital affairs and multiple partners are looked down on, and having multiple father's to your children is shameful. That's it? Not mother-son incest, ripping the beating hearts from your own babies, consuming them with fava beans and a nice chianti?...


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