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110 votes
Accepted

What kind of protagonist or writing style is Jack Sparrow?

There are several ways to think of Jack because he takes on many, many roles depending on what the movie needs. In general, he's a walking plot device and only very rarely does he develop anything ...
Kirk's user avatar
  • 7,600
83 votes

Mother is writing a book, thinks writing her life stories is same as telling them

I very accidentally stumbled over this question and have a feeling that I must answer. I'm no writer at all and also no pychologist or NLP [neuro-linguistic programming] practitioner (to help you ...
Gerd's user avatar
  • 641
75 votes

My story is written in English, but is set in my home country. What language should I use for the dialogue?

You have read books like this, or at least are familiar with books like this: Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls is set in Spain, and it is indicated, repeatedly, that the dialogue is in ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
70 votes

What can a novel do that film and TV cannot?

You've already gotten quite a few good answers, but there's one important point that I didn't see in any of them: You can omit visual and aural details. If you don't want to tell the age of the ...
celtschk's user avatar
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64 votes
Accepted

Do hard to pronounce names break immersion?

Hard-to-pronounce names suggest a different culture. If War and Peace had its characters named not Andrei Nikolayevich Bolkonsky and Pierre Kirillovich Bezukhov, but Andrew Bolk and Peter Bek; or if ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
60 votes
Accepted

How to refer to siblings who are friends?

You’re using unequal terms interchangeably. Imagine Alice is Bob’s sister and also does his taxes. The former is a personal relationship and the latter is professional; for most people those belong ...
user137369's user avatar
55 votes
Accepted

Is it necessary to use chapters for fiction?

A The benefit of using chapters isn't related to the storytelling, but rather to the comfort of the reader. It provides an easily identifiable break in the story. If a reader needs to put down their ...
Flater's user avatar
  • 3,147
53 votes
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Does everything have to be accurate?

Generally, @MichaelKjörling and @HenryTaylor are right. Let me, however, look at the issue from a slightly different perspective. If you explain something, it has to make sense. If you don't explain, ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
49 votes

Mother is writing a book, thinks writing her life stories is same as telling them

There is a very standard solution for people in your mother's exact situation. Hire a ghostwriter. Writing is a demanding art, and someone who excels in their own area of expertise is rarely also a ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k
48 votes

I have 97 pages in my book draft. Is it too late to swap to third person from first?

That's a substantial bit of revision. It can definitely be done, but the question is if that's what you want to prioritize right now. During a first draft, there will be a lot of things you'll want ...
Standback's user avatar
  • 28.3k
46 votes

How do I have to refer to a person of a specific racial group?

You need to be coherent with your context, so you need to use the words that your characters would use. Your language needs to match, or adhere to, the world setting you create. I will make a very ...
FraEnrico's user avatar
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45 votes

Can I conceal an antihero's insanity - and should I?

To be honest, your question has me scratching my head a little. You've described your character as a person with no qualms about manipulating others, all while putting on a sweet face to the outside ...
Anna A. Fitzgerald's user avatar
44 votes
Accepted

Want to write, have ideas, no story telling techniques or experience, feeling lost?

Take a dimly lit corner of your universe and one of your lesser characters and start writing some of their backstory as an in-the-moment adventure, not an aspect of someone's history. You know by the ...
Henry Taylor's user avatar
  • 10.8k
43 votes

How to get readers to care about a dead character?

You don't necessarily want or need flashbacks and you don't necessarily need the reader to like the character who died in an intimate way where they actually know who that character was. What you want ...
Kirk's user avatar
  • 7,600
41 votes
Accepted

How to make readers know that my work has used a hidden constraint?

You do not. Nowhere in Green Eggs and Ham does Dr. Seuss tell you that the whole thing is written using exactly 50 different words. It's an "Easter Egg" as @Alexander points out in a comment. It's ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
37 votes

Do hard to pronounce names break immersion?

Like your reader, if I'm unable to pronounce a name, I replace it with something simpler so I don't have to try to pronounce it each time I see it. After the first few times of seeing it and trying to ...
Gwendolyn's user avatar
  • 1,348
37 votes

Do hard to pronounce names break immersion?

You can criticise me, but if I get a name like the one you have used (I can't easily see how you get to the pronunciation you give), I simplify or skip it. The consequence is that hard-to-say names ...
S. Mitchell's user avatar
  • 7,936
36 votes
Accepted

How should I quote American English speakers in a British English essay?

Usually no. When quoting, it is assumed that you are using the original writer's dialect and spelling, since that is a part of what they wrote. The style guides I consulted agree on that point. APA ...
TaliesinMerlin's user avatar
35 votes

What kind of protagonist or writing style is Jack Sparrow?

Sir Terry Pratchett had several characters who, like Jack Sparrow, were used sparingly in the stories of others, but had a strong presence both in terms of their impact on the story, and in terms of ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
35 votes

What can a novel do that film and TV cannot?

I think in recent years the gap between what is "possible" in a prose vs. film (both cinema and TV) has narrowed significantly - historically the limitations and expense of things like CGI and ...
motosubatsu's user avatar
  • 7,283
34 votes
Accepted

What are the limits to description in story writing? How do I know if I have crossed them?

First, let me start by saying...wow! Your command of the English language is impressive. Some people think purple prose can be boring and unnecessary, but when done well, I think it can really make ...
Neghie Thervil's user avatar
33 votes

What is the correct way to write dialogue?

It depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Think of authors that you've read who handle dialogue differently, and what they were trying to convey. For instance: "I'm headed to the store,&...
John Doe's user avatar
  • 832
33 votes

Should a narrator ever describe things based on a character's view instead of facts?

Jane Austen is the master of Free Indirect Speech, a 3rd-person style where the narrative voice becomes the direct thoughts of a character. In your example it would work something like: John ...
wetcircuit's user avatar
  • 27.2k
32 votes

Does everything have to be accurate?

You appear to be a nonfiction or science fiction writer, attempting to create a work of fantasy. In either of the former disciplines, critics will come out of the woodwork to spotlight every ...
Henry Taylor's user avatar
  • 10.8k
31 votes

Is it ok to reference something modern to give the reader a better idea of what something looks like if the book is set in the Middle Ages?

Attempting To Keep Readers' Minds Inside Our Story As authors we attempt to do everything we can to keep our readers' minds in our story. In most stories, as authors, we also want to disappear so ...
raddevus's user avatar
  • 6,477
31 votes
Accepted

Is head-hopping always bad?

It's fine if the switch is clearly intentional and well sectioned-off. It's fine to jump between POVs for say, chapters or whole scenes. What isn't all right is a book that mostly is one POV, but ...
Matthew Dave's user avatar
  • 9,134

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