New answers tagged

0

This wasn't a "death," but a resignation, that had a similar effect. I once had a boss who people expected to go to the top. He left for a better job, and just about everyone in his "sector" was sorry to him go. We all felt that he had very big shoes to fill. That was in fact the case. But his departure created opportunities for no less than five people ...


1

What do you mean by "nothing happens"? If you mean "nobody gets killed, there are no car chases, and nothing blows up", then certainly you can have chapters where "nothing happens". There are lots of books that have no action of that sort at all. I suspect you mean something more like, "there are chapters that are entirely the heroine considering what she ...


0

I think you are wrong in thinking that nothing happens in your chapters. As you said, you are focusing more on the characters, and when you develop your characters, there is something "happening". It shouldn't be underestimated, chapters to let the reader delve in the mind of the character. It creates a much needed sense of connection, and not only that, ...


0

Does something need to happen in every chapter? Yes. Something needs to happen in every paragraph. Something needs to happen in every sentence. The story must advance. A story needs more to advance than physical action by the characters, however. It is the telling that needs to advance. Actions are merely one device for advancing story. Description, ...


6

This is a classic "cabbagehead character," who allows you to gradually unveil your worldbuilding as he leaves his isolation and goes out into the larger community. Nothing wrong with this at all. First example I can think of is Garion from David and Leigh Eddings' pentology The Belgariad (and second pentology The Malloreon). He is exactly what you describe:...


1

I often create characters, and factions for my stories before developing a more polished plot. Generally after creating a character I have a rough idea of where my plot is going, and what I want to do with these characters. From there world building takes over, and I make notes in Scrivener for future reference as I write the story.


0

The choice of "mom" or "mother" or some other word helps to characterize the narrator. They differ in formality, and perhaps other attributes. This offers an interesting opportunity: Your character's choice of words could indicate something about her mood or her attitude toward her mother at each particular moment in the story. Similar to how a parent's ...


0

I feel they are similar enough that they could be used interchangeably, as long as it's not too frequently. Also, consider the personality of your characters, and the scenes that they interact in, and their upbringing. Growing up, because of my families Southern Appalachian heritage, I generally tended to call my Mother Momma. Growing up in the mixing pot ...


1

Addressing characters in dialogue: Anything goes. I usually call my mum 'mum', but I might call her 'mother' to be mock-serious. 'Queen of the Muffins'? Sure, if in the middle of some exchange it makes sense for me to call her that, as a joke, as an insult, whatever — you can put it in my dialogue. Addressing characters in the narrative: Orson Scott Card!...


3

"Mom" and "mother" and the other variations are all common enough that alternating between them probably won't be disruptive. On the other hand, they are different, with nuances of formality and attitude - so if you're alternating between all of them, with great frequency, like you do in this sample - then yes, it does start to feel a little weird. I think ...


0

As a general rule, dialogue is not bound by the rules of grammar as tightly as the rest of the novel. Therefore, if a person says something a certain way, you write it that way. As far as your example goes, there is no right or wrong way to refer to Quorraline's mother in dialogue. If Quorraline refers to her both as 'mother' and 'mom,' then her dialogue ...


0

Some creators develop a mild case of schizophrenia. Or imaginary friends. Or Tulpas, if you like. They can distinguish and identify the imaginary companions, but these companions have own ideas, own opinions, own thoughts; quite rich to that; they are separate, fully-featured persons for all practical purposes, despite living only in the writer's head, and ...


0

Story arises out of a challenge to character. The same event may challenge some characters and not others. A given character will be challenged by some events and not others. So, to create a story, you need a character and an event that challenges that character. Which comes first? In some cases, I am sure, the character comes first and the author must ...


0

As a general rule of thumb I only introduce the main MAIN character in the first chapter. That's to say, just one person. You can introduce someone else with them, but no more then one other person. After that, you can gradually introduce the characters at whatever interval you deem necessary. I like trios or introducing single characters by themselves, but ...


2

In general humans are able to track no more than 7 distinct factors. If you want the reader to root for everyone you introduce I think that number would be the practical limit. From another angle, you want to give each character enough attention without the story slowing down to snail's pace. Think Tolkien: Many people do not dig him because of the very ...


6

At risk of sounding glib, I would say "as many as will fit". But I think that probably is the answer. A chapter should have a shape to it. It should accomplish something. It should have focus. As many characters as fit within that shape and contribute to that goal should be fine. Sometimes that will be one. Sometimes it will be dozens. An opening chapter ...


2

I'd guess this isn't a romance novel :) As you've said, the character's death sets events in motion that wouldn't have happened otherwise. You're giving your other characters the opportunity to react to that; you're giving yourself plenty of opportunity for other sudden changes (shifting of allegiances, strong characters giving up, weak characters finding ...


10

There is one rule in writing from which everything else stems: you write for the reader. However, from that rule, you can deduce that if you turn out a novel that you know could have been better, you are cheating the reader from reading it. You've examined other possible routes which do not include the character's death, but you've found that none of them ...


2

This is the key: these alternatives don't quite deliver the same effect If the alternatives don't create the effect you want in the reader, they're not good alternatives. If killing the character creates the effect you want in the reader, kill the character. Trust your instincts. You're a storyteller. You know what you are doing.


-4

Of course! If people don't die, it's rather unrealistic in my opinion.


1

My advice (Probably not helpful advice, but still) Make the character relatable You have probably heard this a million times, but it is important. Many readers, including me, are turned off by relatable characters. And I've also learned "relatable" does not mean "average". The character could be the leader of an empire, but they're still human. They have ...


0

The character doesn't have to be "normal" to be relatable. I have read books where the character is the leader of the rebellion and is still more relatable than a character I read that was middle school fiction. The character just has to have feelings that are appropriate for the situation, and have a well rounded personality. No one will relate to a Mary ...


0

I have described the personalities of characters upfront before, but I also left that manuscript to die, so yeah. If you want to, you can have another character describe one or two traits, but I would let their actions (and if it's first person, their thoughts) describe the rest. Hope this helped!


1

Not unless it drives the story forward. Do not describe every outfit the MC puts on, puh-lease! It gets annoying. If they're looking in a mirror, maybe, but otherwise I don't see a reason for it


2

When writing in first person, you would only write about what your POV character is seeing, thinking, feeling, experiencing. This means that unless she is looking in a mirror, or particularly self-conscious, she would not be thinking about her own appearance in great detail. This means that it would make sense that she would notice her friend's appearance ...


1

Describe whatever the viewpoint character notices and has opinions about. In a naughty story, the characters might choose their attire to have certain effects on other people, or to express certain aspects of their attitudes, mood, or desires. Which means that the characters will have opinions about their attire and the attire of others. So describe ...


4

In looking at your excerpts, and granting for translation, I think the problem is that you start well and then add too much. You don't have to give all the details at once. If this is a person we never see again, secondary details don't matter; if your protagonist is interacting with the character, then there's time later in the scene to add more detail. ...


3

In addition to Mike C. Ford's excellent suggestions, there is a secret technique, misunderstood but effective, known to all professional writers but divulged to few outsiders… Don't show, tell. "The city was founded by people from all over the world. Generations had gone by, but not so many that its people all looked the same." Job done!


4

There are a number of solutions that I have for this, as I suffered from the same problem: Only describe what you need to Imagine trying to describe James Bond to someone. You could say that he is handsome, looks good in a suit, and has an athletic build. This could be enough to get a good image in the reader's head, and could describe any of the actors ...


1

I've had a related discussion with my wife two weeks ago about whether there's anything significant about men writing a female protagonist and women writing a male protagonist. For example, Robin Hobb writing about FitzChivalry, or Witi Ihimaera writing about Paikea. In the end, my wife and I concluded together that the protagonist's gender is really only ...


0

men can identify and empathize with male as well as female protagonists, while women identify better with female protagonists (the claim being, they can certainly sympathize with male protagonists, but identification is harder). Anecdotally, I would consider the reactions of a percentage of male fans to the all-female Ghostbusters, Daisy Ripley's Rey in ...


1

I see three keys to character-driven stories: The character wants something strongly enough to struggle for it. The character has a unique reason for wanting the thing. Something about the character makes the struggle more difficult. The first one is common to all stories. I'm not sure the second one is essential, but it sure helps. Give the character a ...


4

Character-Driven Story Is Driven From Self-Concept Self-concept is one of the strongest powers on earth. That's because so many people have self-concepts which put them at odds with the world around them. Self-concept drives the actions a person takes. Because it is so real, it is the essence of what we search for in our stories. Self-Concept Drives ...


2

Some people do. I don't. I prefer to discover who my characters are by just writing them. I'll put them in scene after scene with each other and see what happens. Sometimes the unexpected happens. This requires a lot of exploratory writing that might not make it into the final draft, but I find that this technique creates characters that are more natural, ...


3

By definition, character-driven fiction is that where the plot takes a back seat to the characters. What's essential? Everything that's in a plot-driven story, really, just in a different balance. There is usually a plot, but its purpose is to keep the readers engaged while the author digs into the characters. A teacher of mine said plot is the shiny keys ...


0

It depends a lot on the plot, the "genre" (I don't like this word too much, but there is a difference between pulpy science fiction and literary fiction), and other dynamics. For genre fiction (=science fiction, horror, fantasy, detective, etc.) stereotypes are generally expected. This means, characters should be rather clearly offered as good/evil, smart/...


0

I think if you try hard to make a character hateable, most readers will hate him. And yes, it's good to have such characters in stories. If all your characters are nice and kind, the story might get a little boring. Those hated people are something different for your story. If you really want your readers to hate him, make him bully the protagonist or ...


5

Well, "good" is subjective. You can have a loathsome, hissable, completely irredeemable villain who roasts puppies, shoots women with crossbows, and writes comics where Captain America is revealed to be a lifelong HYDRA agent at the end, and your reader will likely despise that character. However, even your wretched villain should be three-dimensional. ...


2

By not backing off from bad ideas and stupid questions. We all have these. We have them countless times every day. The only difference between a moron and a smartass is the speed and ease in recognizing shortcomings of these ideas. So start off writing the character like a normal smart character. Then whenever you have a wrong idea about what the character ...


2

By being one. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes and thinking like them is an integral part of writing fiction. It is essential that the character comes to life. If you can’t identify with a simpleton, err sorry, learning disabled, differently-abled person; don’t bother to write one, or a novel for that matter. I shouldn’t have to tell you this, ...


0

If you think about 'Star Wars' you could find a similar structure. In the first movie (1977) the hero is not the Jedi, but Jan Solo. With him, besides Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is old (but in any case he dies), you have two friends, a boy and a girl (later you will know that they are brother and sister). One time, many years ago, George Lucas talked about it ...


-1

By having the 'moron' use faulty logic, nonsensical assumptions, and idiotic conclusions. Though you have to make sure it isn't silly, unless you want to write comedy.


6

Interacting with people who think differently is a good way to start. Using the word 'moron' is a bad place to start. I have very strong spatial thinking skills - I can imagine things in 3D and can intuitively understand how mechanical things work, but I'm very bad with numbers and math. My wife is nearly the opposite. She thinks in words and logic, ...



Top 50 recent answers are included