Common, repeatable methods of achieving particular storytelling effects or of avoiding narrative pitfalls.

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267 views

Learning storywriting for videogames - Handling deep nonlinearities

A recent question asked for pointers for writing for games, and the gist of the answers was that it's not very unlike writing books. The underlined differences were only superficial. There's a ...
6
votes
7answers
2k views

How important is it to know the end before the writing the beginning?

One of the Rules of writing indicates that knowing the end before the beginning is critical to writing. Which I find odd, because in my writing (early days, probably doing it wrong), one of the best ...
6
votes
6answers
1k views

How to introduce a world that's alien to the reader

I'm writing sort of a space-opera and I was wondering what would the best way to explain everything about the world to my readers. The story is kind of a political intrigue, and it would be very easy ...
6
votes
3answers
477 views

How to distill a plot into a logline?

A logline is a one to three sentence summary of a story, used to pitch a script to producers and other buyers. It should contain: the protagonist the goal of the protagonist the antagonist the ...
6
votes
5answers
263 views

Writing about a subject on which you have no expertise?

So I signed up for a novel workshop, and within a month the first chapter will be due. Problem is I that want to use characters who are well-versed in mathematics, especially group theory or model ...
6
votes
4answers
551 views

Non-cheap ways to make villains evil?

Do you have any tried and true techniques to make villains of your stories truly hated by the audience? I mean, frequently it's "eh, sure, that's bad, he's got to be stopped" but the audience would ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Can someone explain set pieces?

I was using a book in a writing group that talked about set pieces, but I never really got a clear idea of what it is or how they're supposed to appear in writing. My impression was that you have a ...
6
votes
5answers
386 views

Can anyone think of books that contain two separate stories or two very different perspectives on the same story being told together? [closed]

I fear that the question sounds vague and confusing, but I can't conjure up the words I need to say exactly what I mean without going into detail. I thought it would be interesting to have two ...
6
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4answers
124 views

How to make a dark story not-so-dark (Shining the light in darkness)

I'm writing a war story, and it's dark. However, I find that every scene turns out to be depressing because of it. Readers will be overwhelmed. Are there ways I can induce hope/shine the light in the ...
6
votes
5answers
257 views

Best Practices To Learn By Reading?

I've been browsing writers.se for a while and I've noticed a lot of folks state you have to READ to be able to write. I'm currently having trouble working time to read fiction into my daily routine. ...
6
votes
1answer
214 views

What are tips / techniques to manage the consistency of a plot encompassing several subplots ?

When I lay out a plot consisting of interwoven threads, one of the most annoying things is to manage effectively the factual, logical consistency of the whole. In order to be more effective and ...
6
votes
1answer
142 views

Is there a good textbook for understanding literary techniques?

I want to really understand literary techniques. I want to be able to say "Ah, I see this writer is making use of assonance," or "I think I will use a simile here instead of a metaphor." There are ...
5
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8answers
6k views

Good examples of fear/terror inducing techniques used with enemies

What good examples of fear/terror inducing techniques do you know? Off the top of my head I am thinking of: the Apache Indians scalping of dead enemies and hanging them in their horses/spears/belts ...
5
votes
3answers
895 views

Motivation Reaction Units?

In tightening up some chapters, I began to question some of the structure of my chapters. Has anyone ever come across the method of writing scenes as breaking them down to Scenes and Sequals, and ...
5
votes
5answers
232 views

How to write about things which depend on each other

I am writing a technical documentation about a product. Now problem is there are many interrelated and interdependent concepts. I am just confused how to put them in order. I mean if I talk about ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

How to write a book in 2 weeks?

I got challenged to write a book of 100 pages in two weeks. I see this challenge as a game that can be played in many different ways. What are the most effective strategies for writing a lot in a ...
5
votes
7answers
239 views

How to handle characters being funny in a dire situation without ruining the mood

There's one thing I always find impressive and moving when I see it in accounts of historical events or depicted well in fiction: gallows humour, when a person who is facing likely or certain death ...
5
votes
3answers
325 views

Clear steps for developing a powerful inner conflict

This question is similar to this one. However, it is different based on what I am looking for. I know what inner conflict is, and I know why I need it. I have tons of examples, and I can usually ...
5
votes
7answers
339 views

Does this writing create emotion in the reader?

The thing I hear most often about my writing is, "It's too dry." I'm sure this happens to other people too. I'm working on eliciting emotion through writing, and I'd like a critique on some of my ...
5
votes
4answers
176 views

Need guidance on my writing method

I have decided to take up writing as a hobby. First because I have so many ideas and like creating things. Second, because I enjoy it so far and thirdly, I like the idea that if my writing is any ...
5
votes
3answers
556 views

Handling an Inauthentic Character

One of my main writing projects centers around a character rich with vices. Probably chief among them is self-interest, followed by dishonesty. When I say dishonesty, I mean more than lying to get by. ...
5
votes
4answers
205 views

Is there a technique to help me write this character's notebook entries?

I wrote a short story in which the protagonist (Vasily) has a notebook. During my rewrite, I wanted to really emphasize the importance of the notebook and push the reader's focus onto it. I decided ...
5
votes
1answer
135 views

Are newlines effective for adding weight to certain phrases?

Sometimes I'll write something where there's a few paragraphs of buildup, then a "whammy line" or two. I wrote a quick example, pretend it's a climactic moment from a bad YA romance. She wrung her ...
5
votes
1answer
685 views

When parodying a song, how important is it to replace words with homophones thereof?

I often decide to parody songs to adapt them to different contexts -- mainly for fun, for improving my English and causing an healthy amount of groans into people who read my creations. However, I ...
5
votes
3answers
220 views

Formal video-based creative writing courses

Are there any online video courses for creative writing? Preferably free. I'm referring to university-type courses, which are filmed and then published online. An outstanding example is Brandon ...
5
votes
3answers
711 views

Background speech with foreground dialogue

A few days ago, I stumbled upon an issue of the type; meaning I had two characters talking between themselves and another character talking in the background; actually delivering a speech. What the ...
5
votes
1answer
632 views

Techniques for minimizing redundancy in a document, paragraph or sentence?

Can you provide me with some techniques for minimizing redundancy in English sentence structure on three levels? The Document Level The Paragraph Level The Sentence Level I'm trying to get better ...
5
votes
4answers
186 views

Methods for writing from an alternate gender/age/cultural viewpoint?

While many aspects of a culture, etc, can be researched - there are intrinsic difficulties to writing from the PoV of a woman as a male author and vice versa, and I'd argue even harder for an adult to ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Twist in kishōtenketsu vs. twist in Western plots

How does the “twist / ten / 転” phase in the Japanese kishōtenketsu narrative structure differ from the “plot twist” that is a standard element of many Western stories? I’m thinking, for example, of ...
5
votes
4answers
493 views

What makes a good action scene?

Action, in any storytelling medium, is the relationship between build up and pay off. While cinema may emphasize the payoff (pyrotechnics play well to theater-going crowds) it seems that the written ...
5
votes
3answers
80 views

Deaf speechmarks? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How does one present spoken dialogue as a secondary language to signed speech? I want to write a novel and I was thinking of including a deaf character. I want to know ...
5
votes
2answers
70 views

Techniques for picture writing?

So, the title is unclear. What I mean, is I want to create a piece of writing which the reader does not imagine as "real". I want the reader to imagine this piece of writing as pictures instead, and ...
4
votes
5answers
476 views

Condensing words, to condense or not?

I am doing a lot of writing lately. Novels, short stories, and so forth. I have one person that tells me, Immense improvement from the first version. A great deal of your description is ...
4
votes
4answers
281 views

Are these fictional musings convincing or overwrought?

I've been working for some time on a story about a detective who finds himself alienated, delusional and hopeless while trapped inside a dystopic, postmodern dream. This segment voices some of the ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

How to explain a war scene?

In my novel, I have a part where there is a war scene, and I need to explain it precisely from the king's point of view. How can I explain the war graphics vividly?
4
votes
3answers
4k views

Describing common hand gestures

While writing stories how do I describe the action of common hand gestures, for instance the "come on" signal. Is there any reference? I found a list of hand gestures in wikipedia but obviously it's ...
4
votes
3answers
955 views

How to write a conversation

Conversation is the thing I have most difficulties with while writing stories. How do I write a conversation so it will be clear who said what, and in a way that's not like a court transcript? Should ...
4
votes
4answers
289 views

What is the “inner consistency of reality” that Tolkein refers to in his essay On Faerie Stories?

I read Leaf by Niggle, and I've ever since been recommending it to just about anyone who will listen to me. Now, I want to know how The Magician did it. I read over his essay On Faerie Stories, and ...
4
votes
3answers
188 views

Referencing the process of writing the novel as a part of the novel's plot

I am writing a review of a novel, which I guess is postmodern in a nonstrict way. And I need help with terms. How do you call a technique when the main character is the author of the novel and ...
4
votes
4answers
466 views

Punctuating dialogue with oneself

I am wondering what the convention is for punctuating dialogue with oneself. In particular, if a character speaks to himself, do the words need to be put in open and closed quotes? Note that the ...
4
votes
3answers
214 views

Adding more characters as the story moves forwards

I'm 20 and have been writing a lot of fiction since I was 11, and there is a story that I keep rewriting as I get older and learn more about writing and storytelling. Strangely I haven't done that ...
4
votes
5answers
180 views

How to write a good prison scene

I'm attempting to write one or two chapters with one of my main characters in a jail cell. It's important to the character development that he is isolated for an extended period of time, antagonized ...
4
votes
2answers
52 views

How can I include my own words within the quotation?

How can I include my own words (of an extra information) within the quotation? Can I do it in the following way, with the words in bracket being my own? To quote the words of the Buddha: “Here, ...
4
votes
2answers
583 views

What methods does Rowling use to establish Dumbledore as being wise and trustworthy?

In the Harry Potter series, Dumbledore seems to represent ultimate wisdom and authority. Harry (and the readers with him) hold him in awe; many times throughout the series Harry willingly accepts and ...
4
votes
2answers
492 views

original story climaxes - rules / guidelines for this?

I always get stuck trying to work out what the high-point of the story should be, especially when writing sci-fi/fantasy. There seem to be just a few climaxes that get recycled through this genre - ...
4
votes
2answers
133 views

Writing a Platonic Relationship

I'm writing a story, however I just can't seem to form a platonic relationship between my characters. Whenever I am writing my characters (Eric and Abigail), it feels they should just kiss and make ...
4
votes
3answers
185 views

Techniques for creating a bridge between protagonists from different generations

I'm working on a short novel that has two main stories. These stories belong to relatives from different generations, but of the same age. So, although the book spans through 20-30 years, I'm more ...
4
votes
2answers
86 views

Where and how to look for a picture for illustration?

Do you think a writing can always benefit from the use of a visual illustration? If so, how to find for free or buy an appropriate picture, photo, drawing etc.? What are practical recommendations?
4
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4answers
136 views

Forming The Perfect Inspirational Character

I would like to know what cues I can use to make a character inspirational. What are some of the traits of characters like Albus Dumbledore, Peeta Melark or Gandalf, that are quoted often in popular ...
4
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3answers
110 views

Books for children: complexity

I am wondering how complex the story can be so that small children can understand it (younger than eight). Are there any rules of thumb of how many characters can be introduced before the child looses ...