New answers tagged

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'Two Weeks with the Queen' by Morris Glitzman is a very funny book, but it is about death and grieving. (It doesn't use black humour.) It is sometimes used to help children and teenagers who have suffered a bereavement. The right type of humour in the right position always has a place in a novel.


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One of the saddest stories I know, "In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried," by Amy Hempel, is full of humor. (Interesting - it's available online.) The humor is used there like a magician uses misdirection. The narrator and the main character are both funny, and they joke around through the whole piece until the end when things go bad, then the story ...


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In a novel-length work, there is almost always room for some humour. I'd say the trick is to choose the right type, and in the right places. Be the right kind of funny If you've seen it, think of the TV show Breaking Bad. Its subject matter was bleak and often gruesome; its emotional content was utterly brutal; but the writers sprinkled in plenty of ...


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"Sarcasm", "Logical Comedy" completely fits this genre. You know, sometimes when plot gets too serious, you can make a joke or two about how one got saved. Let the characters induce the comedy.


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"Humor" should be taken in context of the whole story. If your story is basically humorous, then "humor" is what one would expect, and would help, not hurt the story. If your story is basically serious, you may have one or two humorous scenes for "comic relief," but "too much humor would detract from the story. From the sound of the question, your story ...


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Most martial artists will not be able to inform you about conflict nor will you pick it up watching tournaments. (Opinion informed by over 30 years in a Kung Fu style which is pragmatic and was taught to one of the Chinese armies, but we don't spar full-contact.) They may be able to describe or critique unlikely movement. Too many arts are either sport-...


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If you are contemplating about mediaeval warfare with longsword type weapons, try reenactors. These people are actually researching what can, cannot be done with the means at the time. This includes fighting in full plate using realistic swords. There are lots of visuals to be found but best would be to seek out a group from a compatible age and go ...


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I would suggest doing some field research if possible. This helps develop a network of contacts that you can use to help you write accurately. You could look up a history professor at your local college that might specialize in warrior cultures. Another possible source is to hang out at local martial arts dojos/tournaments, and take notes on their body ...


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It's understandable that your character doesn't know many things about the world when he leaves his village. That's where he came from after all. But he should know "a lot more" by the end of the story. That's just part of his "journey." If he doesn't, that's when he would look "ignorant," not having learned anything (or at least "enough") from his ...


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Google Maps is fine for geography, but your question mentions "cultural and political references." If you cannot travel there, you have to find some way to be exposed to and/or interact with the people there. Cities have their own personalities. They have neighborhoods, cliques, sections, classes, ethnicities. With New York in particular, you have boroughs,...


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Google Maps and Street View is your friend. Take a virtual walk, learn the area, click on local stores, read reviews for these stores, check bus & metro schedules, find out about the parks, etc. If you're interested in more in-depth elements, you'll need to provide more details about the particular elements. But basically, the answer is the same: ...


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The previous answers are pretty good, contributing my penny. If you are writing a trilogy, you are talking about a specific set of characters which are time bounded (can exist for a specific period of time it's upto you to make them live in all 3 books and/or show their ancestors-descendants) in other 2 books. If you are depicting same people throughout ...


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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:...


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It depends entirely on your story and what you are trying to achieve. Certainly, most trilogies and pulp series are chronological, but there are a number that flow between eras. The one thing they all need, though, is something to connect the separate eras/characters/stories together. One example is Traci Harding's Ancient Future trilogy, which tells a ...


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The most important thing (the only important thing?) is the end result--and that someone reads it. Of course, the process to get there is important, because, duh, it's how we get there! But any way you do it, if it turns out good, it's a good process. It's your process! Imitation is important - feel free to pick and choose from other people's processes - ...


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Some people talk about Plotters vs. Pantsters. A Plotter works out the whole book, chapter by chapter, point by point, then writes to the outline. It takes a long time up front, but then writing can progress quite quickly. A Pantster, on the other hand, writes by the seat of his or her pants, sitting down, clearing his mind, and then writing what comes. ...


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To be honest, it's pretty much the same. It's the same scenario, same context, and generates roughly the same conflict. But well, generally speaking, people tend to find the "boy in the body of a girl" funnier, maybe because of how we are conditioned to expect masculinity and toughness from men. Also because of how little we understand about the ...


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I find it odd that some writers scope out their story, beginning to end, before writing it. Where's the fun in that? I never know how my stories will end. I learn about the end as the characters do. The ending flows naturally from the characters' actions through the story and their, well, their characters. I can't prescribe an ending on the story, and on ...


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Most trilogies or series follow chronological order, but there's no requirement. Do whatever serves your story. As long as it's clear to your reader what's happening when in relation to other events, you can present events in whatever order works for you.


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You don't have to know how it ends, but you do have to know how it begins. It begins with some pain, some longing, some need, some disturbance in the equanimity of life that forces some deep deviation from the ordinary course of affairs. You don't have to know how the deviation will end, or even what course it will take, but you have to know what it is ...


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For me, it doesn't matter whether I know where a story is going or not, because I can only type so fast. I love to flesh out characters and plot out outlines while I'm preparing to write, but once I start writing, all bets are off. The finished product rarely looks like I thought it would as I started typing the opening scene. That used to bother me, but ...


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Lots of writers start writing with no idea where it will go, much less how it will end. Dean Wesley Smith has a book about that, called Writing Into the Dark. On the other hand, I once heard Richard North Patterson claim that "Any mystery writer who starts without knowing the end is committing authorial malpractice." (The next time I read one of his books, ...


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Not all writers know exactly where they're going when they start writing. Sometimes, they don't even know what the first turning point will be until they pick up the pen, or get on the computer, and start typing/writing. If you're not quite sure about the story-line yet, then maybe starting the first chapter is exactly what you need to do to get the creative ...


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You see three options: 1) I like history so I like option 1. 2) involves a change in the abilities or plans or desires of Earthlings who go to the secondary world, so that more of them change things there. This involves a sociological change in all Earthlings in recent history, or a change in a small subset of Earthlings that you define as the ones able ...


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Are you sure you have to justify to the reader why you've chosen to write about certain people in a certain century? Sure, there is the question, why does the story start here? But it could be as simple as your protagonist has come of age and are starting to see his abilities manifest, or some antagonist has finally found a proof that the magic ones exists ...


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Look for a reason of their magic powers that could make ancient travelers unable to have great powers. May be that magic powers are increased by exposition to TV sets radiation?


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As far as superpowers are concerned you are limited by your imagination. Extracting the substance dreams are made of, or reading minds, or changing form and appearance, being invisible, being at many places at the same time, time-travelling, controlling the elements fire, water, wind, space, earth could be some of the superpowers that come to my mind. Thank ...


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There's an excellent Sanderson essay on creating believable magic systems that has been posted here several times. The core of it is this (paraphrased): Magic feels contrived when the author leans on it to solve plot problems, or problems that the characters face. This applies to your situation as well. It won't feel like a cheat to your audience if the ...


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You can have a minor effect of a particular type of magic being there all the time and taken for granted, but then the characters maybe discovering why it happens and using that to push the evolution along. For example, we've always known that we get light and heat from the Sun. But only (relatively) recently did we discover electromagnetic radiation and ...


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Another really useful tool here is foreshadowing and buildup. This is your first defense against the feeling of "awww, he just made that up": make it clear that the elements surprising the reader deep into the book, were present and significant right from the start. The reader only realizes that when he reaches the twists and surprises, but when he does, ...


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Find a story of a magic system that evolves and see if you can follow that pattern. In the "Goose Girl" series, the characters discover long lost magical abilities, so their power grows as they learn more and try new things over time. In the book ”The Rithmatist" the power is changing in ways that were never before known. Is the magic changing? Are new rules ...


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All you need to do is establish the idea of progress in magic. You need to introduce the reader to the magic system as it stands at the beginning, sure. But for this case, you also need to demonstrate that magic is something that can be investigated, innovated with, used in new ways for new uses. A simple example would be: early on,make some mention of a ...


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Show a little preview. Pick one thing which is small and easy to do: call Fire. So your character can light a cooking fire. But Fire can be used for a lot of things: a lamp, a furnace, a hot air balloon. Once you have charcoal, you can use that to heat a boiler, which makes steam, and now you have a steam engine... and this all progresses in one district in ...


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Your character can follow a negative character arc (e.g. Anakin Skywalker, Nick Carraway) which can mean that he rejects the truth in preference for a lie, even a darker lie than the one he started out with, and this in turn can make him do bad things. (In the case of Anakin Skywalker, he saw the truth, but rejected it in order to embrace the lie - I think ...



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