107 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 ...
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  • 7,530
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
84 votes
Accepted

Averting Real Women Don’t Wear Dresses

I would suggest looking at the women in your life (family, friends, co-workers, etc). I have a problem with the ideas of 'feminine qualities' and 'femininity'. They imply that without those a woman ...
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69 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 ...
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  • 4,007
61 votes

How to make the reader think that the *character's* logic is flawed instead of the author's?

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 ...
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  • 4,007
59 votes
Accepted

How can I explain my world if the character is technologically not yet capable of understanding it?

If this detail is important enough that readers should get it, you can have your characters make guesses at the truth close enough that (at least some) readers can connect the dots, while the ...
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  • 4,400
55 votes

What can I do with a part that I feel is necessary to a story but it's an absolute drudgery?

Add Spices and Mix: I think the problem is you are thinking of your writing as infodump. Not all infodump is always bad, but admittedly no one really likes it. But it doesn't need to be infodump. What ...
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  • 12.5k
54 votes
Accepted

Is it expected that a reader will skip parts of what you write?

Many readers definitely will skim over parts of your writing. In my experience there are three primary reasons for this. Your writing is boring or drags. If a book spends too much time describing ...
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  • 1,988
53 votes

How to creep the reader out with what seems like a normal person?

Something is very off about this being, and everyone knows it. Except it's not. When someone is very off, people steer clear. The creepy guy who hangs out in front of the supermarket makes his ...
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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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46 votes

Why are writers so hung up on "show versus tell"?

"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 ...
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  • 28k
45 votes

Don't look at what I did there

Skipping scenes is usually quite welcome in a novel. Sometimes you don't want to see every step. But the amount of skipping you propose is pretty jarring. You will break your readers out of their ...
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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 ...
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  • 10.7k
44 votes
Accepted

How can I convince my reader that I will not use a certain trope?

Readers establish a sense of the story they are reading in the opening pages. That's where you set the contract. If you open with the death of this evil being, the readers will expect that being to be ...
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  • 23.2k
43 votes

Why are writers so hung up on "show versus tell"?

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 ...
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40 votes
Accepted

What information about a fictional world is unnecessary?

You have made a common mistake about world-building: believing that it all has to go on the page. World-building is for you, the author, to help you craft a story in a setting that feels real and ...
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40 votes

How do I write a shriek?

Inarticulate speech or sounds is an instance where I tell, I do not show. Shriek, Screech, Scream, Howl ... It can help if it startles somebody that comes bursting into the room to protect her, or ...
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  • 91k
40 votes
Accepted

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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40 votes
Accepted

How to write cleanly even if my character uses expletive language?

Each usage has its place. #1 is most commonly used in such situations. Even if you're not writing for children, you don't necessarily want every bit of cursing. Sometimes telling that the character ...
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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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39 votes
Accepted

Tiptoe or tiphoof? Adjusting words to better fit fantasy races

Adapt to the culture. If it's a town of demons and the narrator is implied to be well familiarized with them, then you can go with 'tiphoof' and other such expressions, coining new idioms for the ...
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  • 15.3k
39 votes
Accepted

What's the difference between Deus Ex Machina and coincidence?

There is no clear line. If everything else is going well, people won't notice that your coincidence is far fetched. The same plot resolution in another story might be considered "too much" ...
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  • 2,576
38 votes

How can I convince my reader that I will not use a certain trope?

This is really a version of the Chekhov's Gun problem. Things aren't in a story unless the writer puts them there, so readers tend to expect significance from important-seeming things that are ...
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38 votes

How can one write good dialogue in a story without sounding wooden?

You leave out small talk by focusing on big talk! By this I mean every thing a person says should be something at least one person in the conversation needs to hear, or wants to hear, or is surprised ...
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  • 91k
38 votes

How to "Start as close to the end as possible", and why to do so?

Let's take Tolkien's Middle Earth, and the Lord of the Rings, as an illustration: Not beginning at the beginning At the very beginning, Eru created the spirits which would become the Valar, who ...
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  • 7,883
38 votes

Doubt on the trope "power trio": what are their psychological basis?

Power trios are often "Freudian trios." One of the best arguments I've seen about the psychology of power trios is that each trio has a character that loosely represents Freud's ...
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  • 8,622

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