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.

Hot answers tagged

56

If you don't want people rioting in the streets you should show how people are rioting in the streets in your novel - and how that way utterly fails to achieve what the people wanted to achieve. Discourage the obvious, easy ways that you already see, the horrible and dangerous paths that people may think they should walk on when reading your novel. They ...


50

Disabled people fear losing functionality as much as anyone else. Perhaps even more so, because they need to rely on existing functional parts more strongly than others do. What you want to avoid is putting a value on it. For example, losing a limb is awful and creates huge challenges in performing tasks of everyday living, transportation, and may require ...


49

Show his religious practices more and his explicit beliefs less. What does a devout Catholic do? Probably he doesn't spend all day talking about his beliefs; instead he lives them. He tithes. He fasts on Fridays. He attends mass daily before going to work (or wherever he spends his days). He teaches in Sunday school. He studies self-defense but it's ...


33

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 soul to chase after a cute guy, you might get to keep your soul AND reconcile the stormy relationship you've got with your father? When striking deals with dark, ...


29

Foreshadowing is your friend. Your example of Harry Potter isn't quite right. Chapter One is titled The Boy Who Lived. Now that's a bit ominous. Magic is hinted at on page 1* and is outright on page 2. "You-Know-Who" is first mentioned on page 5. By page 11, when the name Voldemort is first mentioned, we already know he was a danger and now believed to ...


26

From your either-or phrasing, I understand that you're asking whether you should write something that appears "hot", but that you personally find utterly boring. How then do you propose to write such a thing? Do you see yourself sitting there, putting drivel on a page, fighting off boredom and disgust? What joy is there in such writing? What artistry? Do you ...


25

It depends on your target audience. If you are writing for adults, go with the flow and let terrible things happen as long as they make sense in your paradigm. If you are writing for young adults, you might want to pull things back a trifle. My current work is very dark and violent, but I leaven it with humor on occasion. One thing you should do if you ...


22

Are these many layers of misery inflicted upon innocents too much for a reader to handle? You must be careful here: the way you phrase that statement, you appear to be laying the blame on the reader - "the story is good, but the reader is too weak for it". Consider instead the alternative approach: the reader is good, but you have not given him enough ...


20

What should I include or avoid in my story to ensure that the reader can empathize with this protagonist but not feel that I am either evangelizing or sending anti-religious messages? Treat the character fairly, and present the character's views as-is. If religion is not he point of the story, then simply write a character that is motivated by the ...


17

If you can make a good case, you could potentially group the short stories by whatever common thread you want, including author. You can also subgroup them. Some examples: Main point in common: author Secondary point in common: genre This is the most common, I feel. The best of Stephen King's short-stories will definitely be all in the same genre. But you ...


16

Four chapters in, your readers should have an idea what they're in for. Not everything that's going to happen, but certainly a hint. Once you've hinted that there is darkness, you can skirt it, turn your back on it for a while, or plunge right into it as you see fit in different parts of your story. But it can't just show up out of nowhere more than a ...


15

When a character commits an evil act and you want to frame it as evil, there are different ways to acknowledge it. Describe it from the perspective of the victim. When the reader is confronted with the emotional results from the evil act, they will sympathize. Have the perpetrator condemn the act themselves and have them feel remorse. When that would be out-...


13

Write what you enjoy. Even professional authors have written first books they couldn't sell, and even when famous wouldn't sell without rewriting them from page 1. It is difficult to sell a first novel (but not impossible, it has happened more than once). If you are not writing something you love writing, chances are you won't sell it. Like it or not, your ...


13

From my POV, if I strive to make myself clear and unambiguous, and people take that the wrong way, that's on them. Not me. Virtually every revolution for the good has involved "illegal" acts, including lethal violence, in one way or another. The founding fathers of the USA fired upon the duly constituted authority of the Crown, killing people. Real ...


13

Let’s look at the even-numbered Star Trek movies. They’re considered good pop culture, and tonally, they’re all over the map, so they’re a good example. Counting backwards, VI is a blatant allegory for the end of the Cold War. IV has an explicit message that was trendy at the time (“Save the Whales!”), and became the iconic example on TV Tropes of making ...


12

If characters never do bad things, you don't have a plot, and if every bad action is followed by a speech about how bad it is, you end up with a didactic polemic, not a novel. It's possible to frame even the worst actors within a larger moral framework --consider Nabakov's Lolita where the main character in a first person narrative is an unrepentant ...


12

No one can really answer that. Because what works for you may not work for me, and that may or may not work for the next one in line. It's personal, and different people need to go about it accordingly. Why? Because it depends on theme, on target audience, on author voice, on character voice, and on setting. Having said that, let's look at a few tools ...


12

Having a villain lop off an arm or leg ought not offend someone who either was born without them or lost them due to accident or combat. Losing limbs is not desirable. I have some disabled friends. One has told me on multiple occasions that he envies me my kidneys. One complaint I hear is people treat him differently. They treat him like he is disabled. ...


12

I am a discovery writer; I don't usually look for a "theme", and my readers don't seem to miss it. There can be a problem with a story seeming to stall, and I don't know that there is an easy fix in identifying WHY it stalled. As I have written in previous responses; I have minimized the occurrence of this by keeping the end-point of the story fixed in my ...


12

It's impossible to make sure your book is interpreted the way you want it to be. Some writers have actively disavowed particular audience interpretations of their works. In many cases the audience either ignored the author or sometimes even actively attacked the author's interpretation. Famous examples include Tolkien saying the ring is not an allegory for ...


11

Save the cat All the standard tricks will still work. Readers can like the protagonist through some simple actions that show he he is a kind person. Allow him to help someone in need, show a kind heart, concern for suffering, and consideration for those who would go unnoticed. Make him relatable Allow him to have (human) flaws, family, and friends. Give ...


10

If you want to be PC, stick to symptoms of infectious diseases, where the sense of body horror would reinforce prevention and be justified as a mean towards avoiding contagion. As the OP suggests, body horror is about body transformations that go in undesired directions. Thanks to evolution, and sometimes thanks to human activity, we have a very large pool ...


10

A theme isn't a "meaningful moral" Or even a regular moral. A theme is the central idea and a moral is a lesson. These can overlap, but they're not the same thing. It's okay to develop your themes (yes, you can have more than one in the same work) as you write. You may not even know them until the end. Or you might need someone else beta reading your ...


9

So, you've come across a message that you "really believe in, but if taken the wrong way by enough people, it could have horrible consequences" and, I assume, you don't want people to be persuaded in this 'wrong' direction. You're aware of the 'right' direction and, "more than likely", you want your readers to be persuaded down that path instead. If you ...


8

To a large extent this is will be dependent upon the taste of the person reading - so you have to work out who your target audience is and how you're trying to make them feel. There's nothing wrong with dark or "depressing" material but it won't to be everyone's tastes but what is? What I would say is that you may want to insure that there is at least some ...


8

Since it's an historical novel involving international politics, I'll assume that you can't change major events in the plot or Setting. I'll try a Theme/Character example: One setting (British Guiana) is talked about but never seen – except possibly in flashbacks. It represents something she's lost (childhood innocence? her family status?) and something he ...


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