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I'm sorry but "wanted to see more facial features/expressions and body language" seems more like an exercise in pedantry than actually constructive criticism intended to help you. Having run the gauntlet of MFA workshops, I can't help reading the comment as "I know about body language and you ... don't." I grew up with modernist minimalism: you know, you've ...


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You may have an interesting story there, but the graph shows one that is "disconnected." It's not bad to have "substories" relating to the friend, boyfriend, and father, but most, if not all of them should also have a second "circle" (link) to the main plot. That way, interesting substories will have a function, rather than just be random events in your ...


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I don't think anyone can tell you what the right amount is -- though they will surely turn around and tell you when you have too much. I think the second sentence about Mom's mascara is extraneous -- it doesn't add anything that furthers our understanding of the situation. Do you mean the scene to be funny? As the commenter points out, it is funny with ...


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I am intrigued by the idea of a bi or tri-lingual text to best show the usage and dynamics of certain languages between characters depending on.....a whole host of reasons: what they're talking about and to whom and when work is based etc. I wonder whether there are now technological solutions to this in the e-format, such that the reader can chose (or ...


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Starting with past progressive feels very conversational, and I expect the sentence to end with a phrase that gives some kind of context about why you are doing that or what happened when you did that. Dale mentions a 'when' statement above, which illustrates the 'what happened'. Here's an example of the 'why': We were driving down the highway in Tom's ...


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Find a non-cliche way of showing that she was crying. I always think back to Updike's comment about Salinger: "In an ardently admiring piece on Salinger years back, Updike confessed a misgiving about the Glass family that is difficult to gainsay. He quoted Seymour quoting R. H. Blyth's definition of sentimentality: 'We are being sentimental when we give to ...


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in an embarrassing situation, for example a bully at school, you could say "I had to blink back tears"


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Boy, I hate the making of rules for fiction writing. The previous poster has given a good explanation of why you might use the past progressive; I just want to add that I don't agree with your sense that "We drove down the highway" would suggest that they were just starting to drive down the highway. Both choices give the sense that you're already on the ...


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Question: How do they know what to listen to and what to ignore? You should try to find great writers; although, they would technically have to be exceptional teachers too. There are people that can teach you the methods to become a great writer. I would have them teach you. In general, if you want to become a more intelligent writer: It takes ...


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Depends on how much you like it. Given the huge number of writing styles, perspectives, tones, genres, and dialects, I don't think there is any one correct way of writing. That said, you should judge any advice you see in terms of what you're trying to accomplish yourself. Does the advice resonate with you or your perspective audience? Ask yourself: Who ...


1

Past progressive is great for relating the context in which some event occurred: We were driving down the highway in Tom's Toyota 4Runner when the earthquake hit. There are probably other uses, too. But readers (like your reviewer) likely expect ongoing conditions expressed in past progressive to relate to something in simple past tense. (Similar for ...


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This is a self-indulgent passage that needs ruthless editing. As I made my way uphill, I understood why An-Mei chose this place for healing. Conifers were pillars connecting earth and sky. Their leaves were as green as their trunks were grey, and the air was pure. Each breath was a cleansing. I heard sparrows trilling, and a chorus of cicadas. My ...


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Maybe you already have a voice. It is difficult for writers to judge their own voices. You live with your voice all day long, in your head, so it seems normal to you, and boring. Other people (most of whom exist outside your head to some extent) don't live with your voice all day long. What do other people say about your voice? That said, I think there are ...


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I always considered "finding your voice" something vague and meaningless, like "finding your inner you" or "finding your true self". What happens in reality is this: you copy your favorite writers, and then, gradually, their style starts merging with yours (that is to say, your own feelings, your own thoughts). Personal example: I started by writing like ...


1

I have two tips. 1. Read. This probably sounds strange at first. But I find some similarities between writing and speaking. You learned your speaking habits from those around you--your parents and caretakers when you were younger, your teachers (hopefully, at least as far as grammar and vocabulary goes), and nowadays more likely your friends and ...


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Just keep writing. Writing is something you have to (and can) learn. So allow yourself the time (and many failures) to do so. Think of writing as being similar to learning a language or learning a craft. Practise makes perfect. Write what you care about. If you are not emotionally involved in what you write about, it will not touch your readers either. ...


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It seems you're using the term setting in a non-standard way to mean genre conventions. Given that, I would say that a mastery of genre, including the fulfillment of the expectations of the core audience, can bring short-term popularity, but that only good writing will endure over the long term. It's also worth noting that the most popular works typically ...


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If I had a formula for what makes a book a bestseller, then I'd have a bunch of bestselling books to my name instead of the lame few hundred copies my books sell. I think the biggest factor in making a best-selling book is that the author is already famous. If a big-time Hollywood actor or a well-known politician or a champion athlete writes a book, it will ...


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As Alexandro said: Neither of those. Many bestsellers are amazingly badly written, and bestsellers come from all genres and settings. What makes a bestseller is marketability and the marketing that are based on this. Every current bestseller has a clearly defined target audience and contains what that audience craves most. (For example, Fifty Shades of Grey ...


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I agree with your first statement. There really are many, many factors in creating a bestseller, some of which vary depending on your target age range. The story's setting, if well written, can contribute a lot to a piece of writing. Without other factors, though, even a stunningly-written setting cannot make it to the top alone. An interesting plot and ...


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Neither of those. They can certainly make a novel enjoyable. But make it a best-seller...I'm not sure. For instance, I've never heard people say that they want to read a novel because it's set in New York or Paris or Narnia. As for the writing...okay maybe this one is more important. However, the term is a little ambiguous. What do you mean by writing? The ...


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Just draw a map of the area and then write a description of each of the locations on the map. Write some little backstories of how each of the worlds factions came to be. Write descriptions of each of the cultures in your world and their history. The benefit to doing this up front is that when you write the novel you can have characters casually drop ...


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I do the same thing when I write. Your second passage does sound better. It puts the reader deeper inside the character's mind -- because rather than reading what the character tells us he's thinking, we're reading exactly what he's thinking. Don't worry about these during the first draft, but in the next draft you can go through and simply remove all the ...


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Why lay the blame on the narrator? Why not lay the blame on the library? "Why does the library have a reputation for being the place to coinduct proper researn? Instead of stayiong home, I decided to waste my time and visit the library, and what good did it do?" btw, i found your second sentence more troubling: "Once I reached there, though, I realized ...


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It largely depends on the context and style of the story you're telling. With the filtering the character would feel less confident, and potentially more inclined to be realistic when the character makes mistakes. The edited version has more confidence and is a stronger sentence. It could be a reflection of your lack of confidence. A solution might be to ...


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From my PoV, depends on the style of writing, example (sorry if it doesn't sound as great as in my mind, not english native): The street lights were flickering. From my seat in Builders Street bus stop i was able to see a shadow move between two piles of boxes. I raised an eyebrow and shouted "Hey, is someone there?", but i got no response. The ...


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Firstly, I would say that if your prologue is 18k long, it is not a prologue it is your story in chief. Or it is a prequel to your story in chief. I think the problem with a lot of prologues is that they are a device of laziness. it is heaping a whole lot of information into the storyline without putting the effort into making it a part of the storyline. ...


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Obviously, there is no definitive rule on how long a prologue can be. If I were you, I would approach a prologue with caution. Why? Usually the first chapter sets the tone, style and themes of the text. If the reader doesn't like the first paragraph/page/chapter etc. they will put down the book.(permanently) A prologue (by definition) is not written in the ...


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To answer your last question (and sort of the rest of it): Sidetracked: When introducing a story, would a prologue be best for those with historical and adventure genres? Prologues are very common in the fantasy genre. It's a good way to introduce different elements of your world to the reader. As I read mostly thrillers, here's what I've noticed in ...


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Prologues are good for the author's purposes (fleshing out your backstory), but consider whether the reader needs to know it. Many agents and publishers immediately throw a manuscript aside when they see the word "prologue" at the opening. This is because quite often, what we write in a prologue is actually backstory that is more for the author's sake than ...


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When I think about myself, I only think something like I raise my eyebrow when I do it consciously, that is, when I "play" some emotion and "make a face". In all other situations, when I face reflects my emotions, I am usually not aware of this, and in fact I have often been surprised when people told me that I look this or that way, because I was quite ...


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As @kitzfox says, there are times when you would know what your face must look like, and it would be reasonable for a narrator to say so. I stared wide-eyed. Sometimes you would reasonably guess. "Bob is the smartest man here", my girlfriend announced to the room. I could feel myself reddening with embarrassment. But other times it would be ...


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Although the narrator can't see his own face, he'd still feel his face moving, so I don't think that's the reason it feels strange. It sounds strange to me because the actions sound intentional. Facial expressions are generally involuntary. I don't raise my eyebrows in surprise -- they rather do it of their own accord. Your writing could reflect this: ...


3

I never read prologues. They bore the hell out of me. Start with your story. That's what I want to read. Weave in the information I need, and don't bother me with what's irrelevant. What I dislike the most: a prologue that makes me identify with and invest emotions in a character that does not appear in the main narrative the myths of a fictional world ...


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Flesh scraping across wood, shoes scuffing the floorboards in a last, feeble protest.


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How about, "the sound of something heavy -- perhaps a person -- being dragged across the floor"?


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Something you need to be aware of when creating a theme before characters etc is that you can end up shoehorning characters into the theme they are telling. If you're not careful with character development they can end up being stiffled by their 'role' in the general theme. The benefit of ignoring theme until the story and characters are written is that ...


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Your theme is the general statement you're making, but you can only make the statement via the plot. The plot should be developed via the organic actions of the characters. Therefore, decide on your theme, figure out a rough plot which will express this theme, and staff the plot with characters who will accomplish it.


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I like technical advice, which is odd considering I enjoy poetry and poetry is something which often as not transcends technical points of style concerning correct grammar. It's akin to a bit of wisdom musicians seem to naturally favor in that they practice scales, chords; practice rhythms and playing specific notes. Advice is fine. Advice, however, is ...


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The only way you can really know what will work for you is by a process of trial and error. Maybe the best approach is to start off by listening to all advice, but be willing to abandon or change whatever doesn't feel like it is working for you. It does take a huge amount of courage and confidence to say 'I've read all of this advice on this aspect, and ...


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The probem with a cliché is not what happens but how you describe it. People cry. Even protagonists cry. And tears do roll down people's cheeks when they cry. This is not a cliché, it is a fact, and it is not rare either but a frequent occurence. Any advice that tells you not to write about what happens frequently in real ife is bad advice. Cliché happens ...


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The problem with sentimentalism is not that it's sentimental. But that it often results in cliche. This is a sample of non-cliched sentimentalism: "Once that first tear broke free, the rest followed in an unbroken stream. Naoko bent forward where she sat on the floor and pressing her palms to the mat, she began to cry with the force of a person ...


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It depends on whether it's the protagonist or non-protagonist is crying. I wouldn't think it's effective to have the protagonist crying. I haven't done a lot of crying scene, but the ones I have done I have underplayed so much in order to emphasize the inner pain. Crying works best when the protagonist is observing someone else cry. In my opinion the sad ...


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First, good stories tend to keep pestering you until you put it down in words. Bad stories seem blessed with inertia. Second, I read a great book by Nanci Atwell about how to teach writing to students. She used the rule of "So What?" for students. Why is this story important or worth reading? New writers tend to write about things without having a clear ...


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Well if you don't have *nix, and you're not familiar with programming, then there is one way to do it, though it might be a little slow. Word does provide a find/replace where you can quickly just replace all words in a document/selection with a word you give it. It's quick to replace, the slow part is that if you are trying to replace a whole variety of ...


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Why do you write? For fun? In that case every story is worthwhile as explored by most of the other answers. For readers? In that case read on. To improve yourself? In that case of course every story is worthwhile, but you need to act as if you are writing for readers. What do you wish to achieve? Now, personally I have always classified two different ...


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It might help to keep a journal with your writing ideas in it. When you have an idea in your head, write down as much as you can about it. Then you would have the ability to go back to your journal and revisit your ideas. If you see something that you would like to write more about, go for it.


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In addition to the other fine answers, consider: Every story you write is practice. No matter what else happens, you can learn from the experience. So if you want to get better at writing stories, and you want to practice, a story can be worth writing just for that.


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Here are my three steps: The test of time: Keep the story in your head for a couple of weeks. Does it come back to you when you're not thinking about it? Is it becoming more and more appealing over time instead of losing its charm? If the answer is yes, move on to the next step. The test of execution. Write the story down. Did it work? Did the idea create ...


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Write it as a short story! Really strip it down and make it short and concise leaving only the essential parts and make it light to read. This will give you a fast result, which you can post to a writing community and which will have good chances to get read and reviewed. And if the story premise and everything is really good and attracts good reviews you ...



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