Hot answers tagged

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 ...


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 ...


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

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 ...


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 ...


7

A beloved teacher once told me that authors should not worry about theme. It's the readers' and critics' job to figure out what themes are in a piece. It's the author's job to tell a good story. Create great characters, move them around, have them interact. That's what we do as writers. If you have strong feelings about a topic, they will appear in your ...


7

Aged 10-12, my understanding of sex was "that's how you make children". It didn't sound like fun, so my understanding of why people would do it, other than to make children, was rather in the "adults are weird" realm. (Adults were also weird in other ways: they drank bitter coffee, and sour wine, and smoked stinky cigarettes, and it's not like any of those ...


7

To the best of my understanding, the main problem with the zombie genre is that it positions decay-disease-disability as non-human evil to be eradicated, and as a threat to humankind. (I don't necessarily agree with that statement, but that appears to be what the guy in the video you link to is saying.) If we accept that premise, the way to write more PC ...


7

I'll set out my stall straight away: I think a theme is essential. However, I don't see how you can write something worthwhile that doesn't have a theme. If you are trying to appeal to your readers, how are you doing to do so? Are you suggesting that good will overcome evil? Does worrying about your body image get in the way of positive relationships? Is ...


7

I have floundered a bit on my second novel and finally realized I did not have a central heartstring, a big question. I had the 'good guy' and the goals; I had antagonizing forces, but no big question to provide depth. Actually, let's back up. I started my second novel as a follow-on of the first. I wanted to follow the characters (heroes) that were ...


6

Other than the already given answers, setting the stage really helps. I'm going to refer to the short story we studied in high school specifically on how to introduce a story. To summarize, a doctor (MC/narrator) is visited by a friend, missing his two legs and one arm. The friend explains that he's addicted to eating his own flesh, and asks the doctor's ...


5

I wonder if you might be able to get somewhere by subverting some of the expectations of disability or body horror - maybe subverting some of the expectations that might have ableist implications, or even challenging ablistic themes. Changing just one of "what the disability/change is" "what it looks like" or "how others react to it" might be pretty ...


5

It sounds like what you want to create is literature rather than just a work that might soon be forgotten. The degree of skill and talent required because of the difficulty of your task is considerable, but don’t oversimplify. If you have a story with complexity, compelling characters and quality - write it. Readers might wonder where you are going, but as ...


5

It's impossible to know if you've crossed the line because all we see is a summary. The summary sounds pretty brutal, but it's the execution that matters. Yes, some books are hard to read. So much so that a lot of readers either won't try or will give up in the middle. The question for the reader is: is this book worth reading? That's true for any book ...


5

Fantasy racism is normal In my experience of fantasy works as well as in my own writing racism does exist between the various races. Tolkien's Elves and Dwarves are the most obvious example. Dwarfs and Orcs in D&D lore traditionally don't get along. Have reasons for racism Usually the reason for this is some past slight rather than inherit bigotry. ...


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