Podcast #128: We chat with Kent C Dodds about why he loves React and discuss what life was like in the dark days before Git. Listen now.
62

As the wagon bounced along the rutted road, Prax was objecting to Lis's notion that they should both run away to start a new life in the city. "I can think of seven reasons that won't work," Prax said, holding up all seven fingers of his right hand. Curling in his outer thumb, he said, "First, we've never been to the city, and we have no idea if it's ...


61

Use film and other literature to inspire you--in particular this song Do you Want to Build a Snow Man. The character is bored. There's empty hallways, but time passes and that's communicated in a number of different ways. In literature Harry Potter is a really good example--boredom is handled well throughout his novels, you can look to any description of ...


61

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 ...


46

"Show don't tell," as a three-word directive, is pithy and simplistic. But it's used because it's one of the fundamentals of writing well, and one of the things new writers understand least. As Lauren says,"showing" doesn't entail endless description of minutiae, or attempting to convey a cinematic level of visual detail using text alone. What is means is ...


45

I agree that establishing the platonic nature of the relationship is important. There are a number of ways to approach it, as in David Doyle's answer. But additionally, I wanted to point out a couple key things to consider: Be aware that even if you gently indicate that the relationship is platonic, many readers will still be watching for signs that there'...


43

You are confused about what's being shown. "Show, don't tell" means "show us that the hero is confused by describing the look on his face and how he stutters and drops things" rather than saying in narration "He was confused." It doesn't mean "don't describe the room he's in." If you don't like a lot of scenery being described, there's nothing wrong with ...


43

I also have Asperger Syndrome. Before I explain how I "write around it", let me talk a little about showing and telling. Writing isn't what it used to be, and I don't mean that in a bad way. In competing with film and TV for people's attention, novels have started to mimic the way such media tell a story through what can be seen and heard. True, good ...


38

You're taking "show, don't tell" too strictly. There's no rules in writing - they're more what you'd call guidelines. If you're in doubt about a passage, write it both ways. Then see which one feels more natural, and which one feels weird and convoluted. If you're finding yourself writing in an unnatural and convoluted manner just to follow some rule, don't ...


35

If you were describing a human being, you wouldn't say "she had two arms, each the same length and ending just below her hips." That description is assumed for everyone (if it's wrong for an individual, we expect the author to point it out). But her arms could still be strong, muscular, tanned, scarred, pale, freckled, hairless, or carrying something. By ...


33

When I was a kid, I was bullied a lot, and I don't usually see accurate depictions of bullying in the media. The bullying I suffered was mostly verbal, but some was physical. What adults don't really understand about physical bullying is that it's more about physical intimidation than actual fist-to-face contact. A lot of the physical bullying composed ...


28

Don't focus on him being a "veteran". Yes, he was in a war, blah blah. You don't ever have to use the word "veteran." If you do, have him use it to game the system or seek sympathy; even veterans hate a cheat. I was in the military, I don't ever refer to myself as a veteran unless it is a formal requirement in a grant or application. I usually leave it ...


27

Plot doesn't have to move at an even speed. Just as you can slow-motion over an important battle, you can speed up over long periods of time. A couple of paragraphs evoking boredom: staring at the rain, practising magic, staring at nature some more, counting days, whatever. Then move on to whatever ends the monotony. A lull in the action is also a great ...


26

The best way to illuminate a boundary is to cross it. Barring that, the second best way is almost cross it. Have your characters accomplish some major task together, despite long odds. Then, as they are celebrating that small victory, have them catch each others eyes. Hold them there, teetering on the brink of it becoming something greater, then in ...


23

There are several techniques: Have a narrator voice explicitly stating the relevant differences. Take everything for granted and hint changes indirectly (e.g.: if your aliens have seven fingers describe one "wearing an inordinately expensive ring on his seventh finger") Describe the world giving "hind-reasons" (e.g.: "He looked at the clock's fourteen hours,...


20

Without having seen your piece, of course, I can only speculate, but I wonder if what you were doing was the opposite of predictability: You signaled you were going straight, or right, when your goal was to go left. I disagree that every book has to be a safe, predictable "the same but different," as Mark's agent said. There's certainly a market for that, ...


20

I'm a professional scientist; my point of view might help. The only way I can think of is to approach it analytically. Body language is a language you don't know. There are books on it, some contradictory (giving you freedom to choose). The parts you are missing is that instead of understanding the language and becoming fluent (on paper), you are trying to ...


19

The thing with an imaginary object is this: people aren't going to see the exact same thing as you see in your mind, no matter how many words you pour on it. Each reader is going to imagine what you describe in a slightly different way. For example, Tolkien describes hobbits in quite some detail. Yet here, here, here and here are four very different images ...


18

Well. There are ways to handle this. The simplest is never address it. They're friends, they get along, and they work well together. People may/will ship them, but that isn't how you wrote them. People will ship (slang term, meaning to imagine them in a relationship) them whether you specifically, unequivocally state they are just friends. People will ...


18

Agree with Galastel's answer, most writing "rules" are just guides so you understand the general effect on the reader. However, just picking the one that "feels natural" isn't very objective, so I'll try to be specific how each version changes the effect on the reader. Breaking the "rule" is sometimes how you signal subtext that changes the meaning. ...


16

Make sure your character remembers things. A street-smart person is someone who has noticed a pattern in life and uses that to their advantage. He noticed that a gang always hangs out in a certain pub because he sees the same four or five people going in every evening, some of them with bloody knuckles, maybe one has a gun hidden in their jacket which he ...


16

The bare minimum is not the backstory The bare minimum that you need to show is not the backstory, but whether the MC is convinced about Matt's good character. For instance, Arthur Conan Doyle does that by having Sherlock Holmes explain to Watson why he believes the good nature of the person they just talked to. Quite often the explanation is based on some ...


15

As Amadeus has stated, impulse control is the greatest attribute of maturity. Additional benefits include... Being comfortable in your own skin, never acting defensive and falsely humble. Being Patient Having Emotional Stability (accepting personal failure without complete collapse) Being Confident or at least having the courage to fake it till you make it ...


14

The goal is to show, not tell... With two rings on her middle finger and one on each of the three fingers to each side, Mary wore far more jewelry than tradition required, but the emerald band on her outer thumb and rose crest on her second pinky were both sentimental. She would feel naked without them. ...so try to describe the difference while ...


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