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21

Feedback is an enormously complex topic, for everyone, everywhere, in every role in life. Some people understand that it's complex. Others do not. Avoid feedback from people who think feedback is simple. Here are some (perhaps too many) of my thoughts. The Briefcase Method Charlie Seashore offers this technique: When someone gives feedback, put it in a ...


8

I assume that we are talking about feedback that you are not obligated to follow, or that does not have consequences beyond "will this make the story better". I mean like, you show the story to your lawyer and he says, "If you publish these statements about Mr So-and-so, you could be sued for libel". Or you have a publisher lined up, and the publisher says ...


7

I'd like to emphasize two points that both Dale and Jay make: You are writing for the reader to enjoy your story enough to want to pay money for your book. The reader is your customer. This means that the reader is always right. If the reader is unhappy with your story it is not your job to convince them that they are wrong. Your book is not an ...


7

Here are some specific ideas to help you get started. First of all and most importantly: You must understand the core challenge you are facing. You are facing the overwhelming challenge at the start of writing a story that many writers face and run from. You have all of this information compiled and in some ways you feel as if it is too much. It ...


7

An author, whose name I forget, explained his procedure in the following way: Write your story down. Leave this version as it is, that is, do not attempt to close plot holes or correct continuity. Instead: Put that first version away, and Write the whole story again from scratch. Repeat until you are happy with your result. What this does is that plot ...


5

I have been drawing for thirty years and published a few comic books. I draw reasonably well. When I was beginning to learn to draw – you can always get better, so you are never "accomplished" – I bought a whole lot of how-to-draw books. Strangely enough, following their advice to construct human figures by following their schemas of proportion never worked. ...


5

Spend 100 percent of your time learning the craft. Spend at least half of that learning by writing. (If this sounds overly pithy to you, please understand that my pithiness is an attempt to break through the thick skull of someone who desperately needs this advice: Me.)


5

In real life people interested in the same thing do eventually find each other. This is especially true in the age of the internet, as is demonstrated by this very forum, but was true even before then. It's a standing joke among scientists, academics, and students writing dissertations that however obscure the subject of your research, you will find some ...


5

If it's your first draft, just write it as it comes. You can't edit a blank page. After your first draft, go back through and clean up the polyglossolalia. If you're writing in third person, pick one language and make it all that. (Obviously if your characters speak multiple languages, you can decide what to keep and what to translate.) If you're writing ...


5

While there might be a payoff coming in the fourth chapter, if readers get frustrated enough on the way there, some of them will bail and never finish your book. So while you can ask your reviewers to forge ahead and read the rest, you can't assume readers will. Consider one of the following two approaches: Condense the material. Do you really need ...


5

If Li-Mei gets laughed at the Animal Behaviour class and gets attention of the founder and if all of this happens right before the first act ends or the first 20-22% of the novel which sets her story goal and the story question, it's not a Deus ex Machina. If it doesn't happen in the first act and happens elsewhere and entering the club is crucial for the ...


4

As Ville Niemi comments above, the simplest way to make this not a coincidence is to have your protagonist do some work to find these people. In fact, I can't imagine how she could casually stumble over something called an Animal Suicide Club. It's the "Club" part which requires the work. Animal suicide researchers, yes, you'd probably find those without an ...


4

Instead of "fiction" (made up) and "non-fiction" (facts) I'll use the terms "novel" and "textbook". We expect a novel, both fiction and non-fiction, to be about experience and possibly ideas, and textbooks to be about detailed information. But there are countless counter examples. For example the scholarly field of ethnology often employs first person ...


3

Keep them, but make them better. Your readers say that they are dead ends. So that is what you must change. Each of the chapters should open a new development in some way. Exactly what depends on your story, but it could be to introduce a possible enemy or ally, or to raise the stakes in some way - such as her realising that what seemed to be a purely ...


3

I doubt that there's a definitive answer to this. Different writers have different styles and different things that work for them. Personally, my approach is that for the first draft, I just throw words on paper. Whatever comes to my mind I type into the computer. Once I have a whole bunch of words down, then I go back and clean it up. I rewrite sentences ...


3

The reason your scene comes across as unrealistic is because it's set in an absolutely realistic setting. You have a teacher, a classroom, a student, a research paper, and then you break all of this with an explanation that tries to sound plausible but in fact isn't. By doing so, you yank your reader out of your world. In the examples you cited, the authors ...


3

It seems you have a lot of information that you've gathered, you have a strong idea of how your world works and the people it contains. Maybe it is time to start compiling some stories around the data that you've got. It doesn't need to be your primary novel, just some short stories to help you get the feel for who your characters are and how they react to ...


3

Congratulations on being a natural mimic! That is a marvelous skill to have as a fiction writer. Now all you have to do is learn how to leverage it. I'll give you a few clues here. Unconscious mimicry is incredibly useful when your plot demands a dramatic diversion from your comfort zone. For example, you may be very skilled at high-speed, high-action ...


3

I may have a very unpopular view on the subject but would say that I find myself more able to write in my preferred style by not reading a bunch of other people's work. I'd say that it's more important to be a good researcher, planner, and editor. The most important skills I practice to write at a level that I enjoy are: Self Editing Automatic Writing - ...


3

A few tricks to make the implausible seem plausible: Let readers know early in the story that implausible things will happen, and they will enjoy every one. A friend of mine once began a story with a scene in which people have been stuck in a traffic jam for five years. After a scene like that, readers are prepared for nearly anything. Have a character ...


3

You have lots of ideas for short stories. The way you get better is to WRITE THEM. Absolutely do NOT think about 'literary techniques'. Really good writers use literary techniques (the theory of which gets very fancy, using words like paraklausithyron, hysteron proteron, etc.) unconsciously. Really bad writers go out to write something 'literary' using ...


3

Considering the club Li-Mei "stumbles into" consists of only two people, one of them absent half the time, and the club's founder is in the animal behavior class for the same reason as her - because it's the most likely place to learn about the topic - I'd say it's perfectly reasonable to have them meet that way. In retrospect, it makes a lot of sense. ...


3

If you're insistent upon keeping his past and emotions a secret early on, one option might be to have the environment around De-Shi fill that void. Let the people around him give the reader clues as to his other side or true nature (depending on whether De-Shi always was like he is). This is of course assuming either exists, and if not there is little that ...


3

I agree with what some of the others are saying. The hardest part of writing (for many people) is making side characters who are just as interesting, round, and believable as the main character. Readers aren't as likely to be in the side character's head, so they aren't privy to the constant inner monologue that must be happening there as much as in anyone ...


3

Think about your story. All the time. I once found an enormous plot hole in the bath. (Er, I was in the bath and the plot hole was in my story, but you know what I mean.) By the time I was drying my toes I had converted the plot hole into a plot point, namely the logical discrepancy by which the main character deduced that another character was lying. If ...


3

I would say write what you are capable of. If your talents are non-fiction, straight to the point works then definitely write it that way. But if you are very skilled at writing fiction stories detailing adventures or thought-provoking ideas, then do that. Personally, I would write a fiction novel detailing all the technical experience of advanced diving ...


2

Pace Go thru your text, preferably while writing it (to avoid extra work), remove everything and anything that does not make the story work better. Rewrite anything that is longer and wordier than is useful. Once you have done that, the story should have reached the optimal pacing for it. Only real way to be too slow is to have useless text, look for that ...


2

If you're worried about being realistic, then maybe you're writing in the wrong genre. Both Murakami and Kaufman are far from realists, and Kafka (although I don't believe you've used "Kafkaesque" appropriately) is best known for a story wherein a man wakes up as something like a dung beetle. Most people think, "Well, that's unrealistic." You may have to ...


2

I think the problem you're facing is that you're comparing the wrong things. Your quoted passage does not deal with the fantastic or the absurd, whereas some of the examples you've given clearly are. What I mean is, your subject of "animal suicide" is something people have probably heard about. Certainly, studying animal behaviour is something people have ...


2

Take a minute to think about this: If someone knows so much about writing that they can write a brilliant book about it, why aren't they writing best selling novels or literary classics? Occasionally a brilliant writer will take the time to write about writing (I have a list of rules for short stories by Edgar Alan Poe), but mostly the books appear to ...



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