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15

It's too easy to get blindly hung up on mantras. If you look at the great authors, they break the rules all the time. With that said, there isn't a predetermined time when it's okay to tell rather than show. You have to decide on the fly which method provides the clearest picture to the reader. Conveying a clear picture is an optimal goal. The reason they ...


13

A common mistake when people first try to work on setting or "space" is simply to add more description. This is usually the wrong thing to do, since lots of unfocused description is just clutter. What you need to do add descriptive notes that also contribute to other elements of the story. Having a small number of details that contribute to the overall ...


11

It has to be OK to 'tell' at some point, because everything comes back to the fact that you are telling a story. At the same time, fiction is powerful precisely because it creates a world and characters to whom the reader relates and uses those to help the reader see through another's eyes and imagine another's world. Telling the reader too much moves you ...


11

Your friend is right. Don't describe things that aren't important for the story. However, keep in mind that things can be important for a variety of different reasons. You may want to describe to establish: Setting. This is obvious, and it's what most people think of. Character: Peter's apartment was full of empty pizza boxes crusted with dried cheese. ...


10

In your example, what's wrong is: Too much detailed description. We don't need to know how Bardolph was standing, and it takes so long to read it that we lose the excitement. You just described 2 seconds in 2 paragraphs. Not enough feelings. describe how the characters are feeling: fear as they duck a blade, desperation as they lunge, surging confidence as ...


10

Combat scenes need to be written in a way to engage the reader. They should be more fast paced and emotional. You're not going to want to be describing every little bit of detail like you would in a slower-paced scene. The character isn't focused on the scenery or what's going on around him, he's focused on the fight. Sentences will be shorter and more ...


10

1) Read drug literature, if you get your head right around Naked Lunch, the Illuminatus Trilogy and some of Philip K. Dick's wackier work they should tell you more or less everything you need to know. Burroughs is particularly useful because he wrote even though he was out of his head on drugs, not because he was out of his head on drugs. The Illuminatus ...


9

You have a scene already, right? John walks into the room, says something to Mary, Mary responds. Now, close your eyes and put yourself into the room. Engage all your senses — one at a time, if this is unfamiliar work for you. Start asking yourself these kinds of questions: What does the room look like? How big is it? How does it connect to the ...


9

I've read a lot of novels in my life and I cannot remember one, that uses bold for emphasizing. But maybe that's just my memory problem. I prefer italic, but honestly, that is a matter of taste and totally up to the writer. I prefer italic words, because they stand out without shouting at the reader. One bold word on a page is attracting the eye. It's ...


8

Details. Out of context, fragmented details. Blood on carpet. How shall I clean it? My little brother cries like a cat Broken window. Daddy will be angry. Damaged school building. Today, we can stay up late. Clothes are torn apart. I need to thread a needle. Et cetera.


8

I like this idea, actually. I'd straighten it up just a little: She was tired, like a bug crawling and skipping off and on the height of a wall together with something else that wasn’t exactly the opposite of the sort of idea, sort of laughing but not really meaning it particularly because when it was time to throw the street under the most medium lightning ...


7

You are using adverbs and to tell us how the characters are acting and feeling. Instead consider showing us their body language. Help me hear them speak. Let me see for myself that Luna is nervous and Dr. Aide is worn out, jaded, or whatever it is that he is. From a grammar perspective (although those questions are best asked on English.SE), a sentance ...


7

You almost certainly want to avoid a shopping list of details about the park. You're not describing the wind and the trees and the building and... You're describing one unified moment in space and time. You want to focus on what the reader needs to know for the story to make sense (he needs to know the scene is in a park, and not in out of space; if there's ...


7

Doing research is part of being a writer. So, don't know what that pavilion is called? Find out. Look online, look around the thing to see if there's a plaque that may give you a hint, heck, you could even ask some people in the area, like cafe workers. That said, you don't necessarily need to know what it is: ...spotted a large wooden platform ...


6

I think the important thing is to keep the combat interesting (as trite as that sounds). Something like: Alonso dropped down on his right knee, swinging his dagger upwards, just like the Italian maestros. Bardolph stepped back fractionally, uncannily anticipating the thrust. Bardolph snarled and slammed his fist into Alonso's face. Staggering back, ...


6

Strunk, White, King and the editor on the paper King interned at all agree, the key to successful writing is: Omit Needless Words As a further note Chekhov pointed out that if you place a loaded gun over the mantelpiece and nobody fires it before the end of the story it shouldn't ever even have been there. He was talking about plays but the principle is ...


6

There are different approaches. David Gemmell and each of the Druss books. Gemmell had the ability to write very simple but entertaining heroic fantasy. His Druss character was the best of them (Waylander close 2nd) because Druss was this indomitable force of will and strength on the battlefield. Probably the best large action scene is in The First ...


6

Mohabitar, As Tyler suggested, it's best to stick with strong verbs and nouns that don't need any help from modifiers (adverbs and adjectives). Modifiers unnecessarily pad your verbiage, and they act as a sort of barrier between your reader and your message. When you do use modifiers, remember a little goes a long way and avoid redundancy. You never need ...


6

Your use of English is very good, yet your arrangement could be better. The sentence near the end that starts "Why "Tomate"? Tomate is the French..." should be closer to the beginning, if not at the beginning. Avoid using generic terms like "one" when referring to a potential user (you do this in the beginning - "How can one focus..."). You use the word ...


6

The first thing that I notice about this passage of writing is the tremendous lack of variety in its sentence structures. Of the 16 sentences, 11 have the subject I Of those 11 sentences, 9 actually begin with the word I. (The other two begin with an adverb.) This creates a very monotonous cadence for the opening paragraph, and makes it feel repetitive ...


6

...it looks rude? I have never heard of italics being called "rude." Your friend is full of it. Both your examples are perfect exactly as they are. The first one is a brief interior monologue, set off by formatting. The second uses italics for emphasis. Single quotes (or single inverted commas) are, as you correctly stated, used for nested quoted material ...


6

Abuse of adjectives and adverbs is the hallmark sign of pulp writing, showing the author has a poor grasp of the language. You usually use adjectives and adverbs when you try to make given noun or verb, respectively, more precise, more descriptive. This is fine when there is no better way to achieve this goal, but in a lot of cases there is a better way. ...


6

Keep in mind that a book is not a movie (yes, this sounds trivial and stupid, but bear with me). Movies uses images so they are easy imaginable. Opposite to that producing images in the reader's head is the hard part. And you want to produce these images and make them rememberable without the interesting, thrilling action (the heist) you need it for? Well, ...


6

Write the scene where the protagonist takes a tour. That shouldn't take too long to do, and it'll probably help you firm up your idea of the layout of the place in your own mind as well. Write the heist. Now try putting the two together. There's at least 4 outcomes I can think of: It works great with the separate layout descriptions first. Keep it like ...


5

I'm just now reading the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin, which has plenty of good swordfights and describes the mechanics pretty well. Mercedes Lackey is good at describing tactics of army movements (at a swords-and-sorcery tech level) with generic fighting descriptions.


5

I'm just rewriting. You need more narration and action tags: She stood in front of his desk for a full minute before he noticed her. When he looked up at last, his only greeting was a raised eyebrow. “Uhm...excuse me, are you Dr. Aide?” "Speak up. You're muttering." She cleared her throat twice. "Are you Dr. Aide?" “Yes.” “My...my name is Luna, I a ...


5

I wonder if a good addendum to the rule would be, "Don't show AND tell." There are times when you can tell, as people say, but you most definitely don't want to ruin your showing by telling. "Kyle's fingers shook over the keyboard. Sweat stung his eyes but he didn't dare take his hands away long enough to wipe his brow. He was nervous." Do you really ...


5

Your writing style is stream-of-consciousness, which can be hard to digest. (On the internet this is labeled "tl;dr" for "too long; didn't read.") I strongly suggest breaking this into several paragraphs. Second, you start out with how despite your objection to her color, she became an emotional bright spot — but you don't get to that until the end, ...


5

Describe first whatever will pull the reader into the scene. Period. There is no canonical order you should follow. If there were such a thing, it would make for a lot of dull repetition, and even fewer books would get read than they do now. Instead, try to find the detail that will pull the reader in: the telling detail that makes an emotional connection ...


5

I agree with Lauren. I like the concept a lot. It is a very difficult balance to try to use a unique literary device like purposefully garbled inner-dialog while remaining invisible as the author. If you're too obvious it feels out of place, but if you're too subtle then it just looks like sloppy writing. It's a bold move for sure. I can think of a ...



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