91 votes

How do you write a Stack Exchange answer?

Structure your answer properly This is something that is relevant across all sites. You should be used to markdown and know at least the basics: Using headings Paragraphs and soft linebreaks lists ...
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  • 5,586
70 votes
Accepted

How do I stop using 'the' to start sentences so much?

Start with a word ending in 'ing'. e.g. Opening the door, he stepped into the dark. Chasing a ball he thought he'd lost, the dog ran through the rain-swept streets. Start with a preposition (so a ...
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  • 7,443
52 votes
Accepted

How should a big universe be introduced without being boring?

Explain what needs to be explained as it becomes relevant rather than trying to present all the information in one go. This has certain advantages: it avoids dumping all the information on the ...
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  • 9,998
47 votes

How do you write a Stack Exchange answer?

I like Secespitus' answer, and I also like Sphennings' point about actually answering the question. But I didn't see an answer which combined those two things, and addressed everything I've found ...
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45 votes
Accepted

How much can a reader remember?

In addition to Mark's excellent advice, I would suggest: 1) Start slowly. In Game of Thrones, we start with just the Starks, and Martin adds on characters a few at a time and lets us live with them ...
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40 votes
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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 ...
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40 votes

How should a big universe be introduced without being boring?

You want to spend as little time as possible on "setup". Even one page of nothing but setup is too much. The reason for that is that the reader is not yet invested in your story. You'd be forcing a ...
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39 votes

How do you write a Stack Exchange answer?

I try to always answer in 3 paragraphs whenever possible. Less is often too little for a substantive answer, and more becomes less and less likely for people to read. The first paragraph should ...
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35 votes
Accepted

Would it be wise to make the turning point of a story coincidental?

There's a rule... I can't recall the name, but it's a fairly common rule. Essentially, the more accidental your reveal is, the more build-up you need not to make it a cheap deus ex machina. To give ...
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  • 15.3k
33 votes

How to Write a Colossal Cast of Characters

It is neither necessary nor desirable to fit everything you've generated for a story into the story In my reading I have encountered, broadly speaking, two different kinds of stories. There are ...
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  • 7,883
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 ...
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  • 7,883
31 votes
Accepted

Writing garbage to see if the characters do something interesting?

Is written garbage better than leaving the page blank? Infinitely! Does every page you write need to be part of your novel? No! If you are seeing weaknesses in the structure of your story, and you ...
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  • 10.7k
31 votes

How can I make "acts of patience" exciting?

@Amadeus describes an "act of patience" as "not doing". I would argue that an "act of patience" can also be about keeping on doing, day after day, something that is very hard to do - it is about ...
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29 votes

How do you write a Stack Exchange answer?

Rule 0: Answer the question If you're not answering the question then you're wasting your own time and others. Everything you do in an answer should be in support of this goal. Most answers tend to ...
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23 votes

Promoting controversial opinions in a work of fiction

Are you familiar with G.R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire? It used to have some characters whose moral compass was strict and noble. They had a tendency to die, and leave a huge mess around them - ...
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20 votes
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How to avoid the 'magic explanation' info dump in Fantasy novels

As you may know, Thomas, there was a question quite similar to yours put by KeithS a little while ago: Avoiding the "as you know" trope in exposition. There were several answers including mine which ...
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  • 2,911
20 votes
Accepted

People like my book, starting halfway through

There may be action, but perhaps what you are missing is conflict. (Conflict is the MC personally having to make choices and solve problems, not just reacting to or living through "action".) Your ...
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  • 91k
20 votes
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Should I include an appendix for inessential, yet related worldbuilding to my story?

My question is, for the sake of satisfying reader interest, would it be worthwhile writing an appendix summarising certain inessential worldbuilding entities that's entirely optional for a reader to ...
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19 votes
Accepted

Is there a method to estimating the length of a work before writing it?

The main problem with trying to estimate something like this is that, even if two writers used the same very detailed plot summary to write a novel, they might produce works that aren't close to being ...
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  • 9,527
19 votes

How do I stop using 'the' to start sentences so much?

I suggest you continue to write however the words come out. Because the last thing you want to do is feel like you can't write unless it's perfect (or better). Every day, go through a paragraph or ...
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18 votes

Skipping the first act?

I think you're mixing up two things here: Story structure and plot. "Acts" don't describe what happens in your story - they describe what purpose these parts of your story serve. "Plot" would be what ...
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  • 1,120
18 votes
Accepted

What is an arena-driven story?

Arena driven story: A man crashes his airplane in the desert, breaking his leg. His radio doesn't work. If he stays there he will die. He splints his leg, takes all the water he can carry, and tries ...
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  • 91k
18 votes
Accepted

How important are good looking people in a novel/story?

It'll depend pretty heavily on what type of story you're telling and what type of readership you're aiming for. Generic sex appeal does different things in different context: In a romance, they can ...
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  • 28k
18 votes

Is it okay for a chapter's POV to shift as it progresses?

There are two questions hiding in your question, 1. Can the POV character not be the character who's most active? Consider Sherlock Holmes as an example. Watson is the POV character, the story is ...
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