Hot answers tagged

110

This is a matter of opinion; personally I don't find it sexist. People have genders, and sexual orientations, and they have to mix. We stray into sexism when we pile up too many tropes. In your case, you avoid the trope of sexual reward for Edward's effort on two fronts; Lily is his sister, and he doesn't seem oriented toward heterosexual reward anyway. ...


101

I've found that the main key to unfamiliar words -- and this applies to jargon in technical writing as much as it does to foreign or made-up words in fiction -- is density. The example in the XKCD comic is irritating because it can't get through a single sentence without three new words. The situation is very different if three unfamiliar words are ...


84

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 isn't a real woman. Much like a man won't be a real man unless he is and can do a set of things. You could perhaps think about the stereotypes for 'manly ...


75

If you want to avoid showing a character as "not like other girls" then make sure your "other girls" aren't stereotypical. The trope shows up with female characters who don't fit in. They don't have a lot of female friends, if any. When they do the stuff they like to do, they're surrounded by men. You can praise these characters all you want but the ...


54

To answer this question, I think it would be useful to look at The Lord of the Rings. We are explicitly told that Frodo is "chosen" for the task: Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, book 1, chapter 2 - The Shadow of the Past) Yet we do not feel, at ...


54

I think my answer may be a tad tinted by my atheism, as I believe every faith and pantheon operates as a function of how a culture interacts with nature, the difficult-to-predict, and the unknown, but I would say a good starting point would be the environment your fictional society inhabits. For example, Ancient Egyptian gods are numerous yet orderly, ...


51

In general, if you can swap out a woman for a precious object and the story remains mostly unchanged, you should attempt a rewrite. The most important thing here is to give the character her own agency, try to avoid the trap of the "strong female character" where she has no significant flaws, and make damn sure she isn't just used to create "manpain". S. L. ...


45

asvarans, vaspahrs, sardars and ostandars. I struggled with this for a different reason, I didn't want to invoke medieval Europe titles either, because little else in my story was like that, I didn't want to set up reader expectations of knightly chivalry that would not hold in the story. My Solution: Go Modern. I figure you are writing a Persian story in ...


44

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 important and assume that the evil being will return. But if you tuck it in after the contract, maybe combine it within local lore of the world along with a ...


44

The kinds of criticisms you are encountering are not aimed against the concept of the hero having a love interest. They are aimed against female characters that that exist only as a motivation for the hero, and that are, as a consequence, generic, cliched, stereotyped, unrealistic, and unsatisfying as characters, particularly for female readers. At one time ...


41

Would you kill them if they were straight? If yes then you're not being homophobic, whether you're seen as being homophobic by readers and critics is a different story of course. If the death drives the story forward then its necessary and if you treat that particular death no differently than you do the death of straight characters in the same piece then ...


39

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 mentioned. It doesn't really matter if they know the tropes or not. So the question becomes, why is this detail in here if it's not going to play an active role? Is ...


38

So this is a bit of a frame-challenge answer, but I think it's worth answering: Maybe it's the abilities the MC has, maybe there is a prophecy, maybe it's something in his/hers birth or upbringing: it doesn't matter how, but often a character is, somewhat, "chosen". No one else could fill in his shoes because the MC is not-replaceable. One of these ...


38

Just Desserts From TV Tropes: A villain ultimately finds their evil deeds come back to bite them. Literally—they end up getting eaten. This does not include a Heroic Sacrifice. But may be subverted with a minor character being killed and eaten in obvious foreshadowing of what is going to happen to one of the bads at some point. While Mooks ...


37

Answer: It depends on the execution. What makes this misogyny is if the sister is in the story (solely) to allow Edward to be a hero. If she is a throwaway character who serves only to provide a prop for him, then your execution is flawed and in that case, yes it is misogynistic. But, if the sister is a hero in her own right, perhaps facilitating Edward's ...


36

The problem here is that by giving him a clearly understandable (even if evil, misantropic) goal, you're making your Fenrisúlfr more human-like. Sure, we can say - by rough sketch - that it wants to eradicate life. But to be truly "so far from human comprehension" we need to cut off any human understandable explanation from his actions. Your question ...


35

Young protagonists are often presented as orphans, because it gives a plausible reason they might be fending largely for themselves. For adults, on the other hand, there are many possible other reasons parents might be offstage --many books about adults simply never mention the parents. However, loss of parents is probably the most devastating, emotionally-...


34

Two additional techniques... Character Reaction. A character might react in a way that reveals some of the information: "Mother! What the heck are you doing here?" Now we know that the person who just entered the room is the character's mother. Disagreement. You can have characters argue about it. They might disagree about: The facts The meaning of ...


33

It's ultimately up to you, but you don't want your ancient Persia overridden by knights. You may as well make them wear full plate armor instead of describing whatever garment was in use in that age for the sake of simplicity, but at the same time you'de be losing something valuable. It's true that it will be difficult for the reader to familiarize with a ...


31

Add other characters who also fit all the "not replaceable" chosen-one requirements. You could have several heirs, a highly trained merc squad, a prophecy which covers all first-born daughters conceived under a sickle moon, etc. It happens that your MC is the person who's available to do the job, but if she wasn't there, someone else could potentially fit ...


31

No, I think you're good. Since so many of your named characters are queer, it's not a case of killing off the sole token of a group, like it is with the 'only black guy dies' trope. Similarly, the villain being queer shouldn't be a problem because there's lots of other representation. And as Ash said, you're not killing her off because she's queer.


30

At first I thought it was a call-back but, as explained at that link, even those are usually relevant later. So I think what we really have here is a continuity nod.


30

Easiest example where not all protagonists find "someone else" is The Lord of the Rings. Of the nine members of the Fellowship, Aragorn and Sam are the only ones who marry within the course of the novel. Merry and Pippin are mentioned in the appendixes to have found wives later, but that is not part of the plot per se. Legolas and Gimli remain bachelors for ...


29

I think the problem with the blue-pink subversion is that there is no clear reason why; other than the intent to surprise the reader. And secondly, it is not clear this trope subversion has any actual story consequences. Normally, trope inversions have at least some rational reason for existing. e.g. Wonder Woman is one of the first female super-heroes (...


27

Although your question skipped a lot of detail, what is there suggests how misogynism could enter through the cracks. Let's look at your summary, and not unreasonably, assume that what you focus on in it, reflects how you've come to this storyline and where your emphasis and attention is - what matters to you. The point being, what doesn't matter to an ...


27

There is a difference between stereotypes and simply not fleshing a character out. For example, your main character goes into a coffeeshop, orders, and sits down to read. At the next table are two women he works with. What are they talking about? Mind you, you're not going to get into their heads. The narrator won't give background about them or tell ...


26

Embrace the opposite of the trope. Is there some reason Supergirl cannot love talking fashion, and own ten pairs of shoes? Is there some reason a brilliant chemist must also be mousy and withdrawn? There is no reason a brain surgeon can't be emotional about receiving unexpected flowers on her anniversary. Whatever a woman's superpowers are, there is ...


25

There are several ways to have more than one language in your world. Here are some ideas: Your characters might be conversant in more than one language. If your characters are high-born or a hereditary merchants, it makes perfect sense for foreign languages to be part of their education. You can even mention they have an accent, or have trouble ...


25

A love interest is not the only reason to risk life and limb. IRL there are many stories of people risking life and limb to save children, sometimes losing their life. In psychology there is a real phenomenon, primarily involving young adults in their teens or twenties, of taking insane risks to save a child they don't even know. Daniel Goleman documents ...


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