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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

What I do: I start with either a last name or a first name. Which one I start from depends on which one the narrator uses to identify the character, because that is what the reader will read most often. Katniss Everdeen is Katniss first; Dr. Henry Jekyll is Dr. Jekyll first. With this starting point, and the knowledge of the character's cultural ...


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

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

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


4

For a printed book, consider a fixed-width font like Courier. Or you can get fancier and use a font designed to look like 1990s computer text. I know that computer text doesn't look like that any more, but readers will make allowances. For e-books, you may not have any control over the font that the reader sees. But you can try all caps, adding left and ...


3

My favorite example of presenting a very technical subject in an informal manner is Designing an Authentication System: a Dialogue in Four Scenes. When you read it you will be able to see that there is no limit on how technical a subject you can cover in light prose, and that in some cases it is better than formal styles. So we know it can be done, the ...


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

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

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

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

40k is a good volume for a MG novel. YA is more like 60k. There are some questions here that give more detail. If two books are equal in everything else, a publisher will buy the book with the "best length". But, as is more likely, if two books are different in everything including length, a publisher will buy the better book. So, if your book is good ...


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

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 ...


3

Short Answer.... Yes. Doable. But, there are a few other things programmers do... Formatting the Text with Decorators... Often times, computer errors will be presented with some type of inline decoration. It is generally safe to assume that putting the '>' character in front of every new line of text will help make your error text look like computer ...


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

Back in the day, all the sitcoms had these: Sandford & Son : When Fred got into trouble he would clutch his heart and say, "I'm coming Elizabeth. This is the big one." (indicating a heart attack) Chico and the Man: Chico, any time a person looked good or the situation was right, "Loooooookinnggggg Gooooddd!!!" Good Times: Any time ...


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

Contrary to what the other answers recommend, when you write for children, you must not let the story dictate the length of the book! When you write for accomplished readers, you can let your story unfold as it will (although there are apparently expected lengths that unpublished authors should not deviate from in their first novel). When you write for ...


2

Keep them, adapt the storyline. How often does research succeed in one go? Life is not like that. If at any time the current attempt is shown as the way to go, and only at the end the impossibility is revealed, and in such a way it could not be known before, I say that is discovery, learning experience, and a nice way to show protagonist perseverance. If ...


2

A rule of thumb: A good coincidence gets the character into trouble. A bad coincidence gets the character out of trouble.


2

It is uncommon and feels unnatural to narrate anything in one tense only. Instead of believing your friend (what makes him an expert?) you might want to pick some contemporary fiction and confirm for yourself what writers (and editors) do. Something like this is fairly commonplace: I barely manage to drag myself from sleep when the alarm goes off. The ...


2

I wonder whether what you're calling a plot hole might really be a character hole. Go deeper into the character. Does your character think contradictory thoughts because you don't understand the character very well? If so, that's a character hole. Solve that by going deeper into the character. Find out more of the character's thoughts, especially the ...



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