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16

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 ...


8

I think it depends on what the main problem is in the novel. If the main problem is technical in nature, the reader needs to have some sense of what it technically possible. If the main problem is psychological or moral, however, what matters is the decision to use or not use the power in question. There is a whole cottage industry online doing "if A has ...


8

Is it possible to make a living as a novelist? Yes, a few people do. Is it sensible to plan on making a living as a novelist, the way you might plan on making a living as a dentist or an accountant? Absolutely not. Very few of those who try ever make even pocket money from writing fiction. A realistic approach is to plan on making you living doing ...


7

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 ...


7

I think we need to make a distinction between a stereotype and an archetype here. The two are often confused, as illustrated by Wikipedia's unhelpful definition of a stock character: A stock character is a stereotypical person whom audiences readily recognize from frequent recurrences in a particular literary tradition. Stock characters are archetypal ...


4

Footnotes and citations in fiction (and, in particular, children's fiction) are extremely rare, and I recommend against using them. It's often said that ideas are common; it's how they're used and implemented that matters. Nevertheless, fiction writers who feel they owe a debt to another writer's ideas usually say as much in an acknowledgements section. In ...


4

If you're "reproducing" a newspaper article in your book, write it exactly as you would an actual newspaper article. That makes it look real, and helps keep the suspension of disbelief for your reader.


3

To my knowledge (not a lawyer), you don't have any legal responsibility to attribute the ideas in your actual text, unless you're directly quoting or paraphrasing. It's very rare (but not unheard of) to footnote a fictional text because it damages suspension of disbelief (except where the fiction is presented as if it were an academic work). Given that you ...


3

How well do YOU understand the physics of what the character is doing? If you have a detailed, fully internally consistent process worked out, then you can probably just allude to it in very general terms if the in world population wouldn't understand it (and perhaps the character himself doesn't have the scientific vocabulary to articulate it if he is the ...


3

One of my writing professors is a fellow believer of the notion that everything is cliche. Almost everything has been done before, and redone many times over. The question is, can you write it in a way that your characters are still unique and interesting? Lots of things can be similar, but still different, and entertaining. In comics many characters are ...


3

"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 ...


3

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 ...


3

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-...


3

As you say, there are many stories that work that start with dialogue. Far too much advice about writing is much too mechanical in nature. Dialogue is just a mechanism for telling a story. Rules about which mechanism to use are silly, and usually easy to prove false with counter-examples. What a story must do is to establish conflict. Can you do that with ...


3

Of course you can start your story with dialogue. It happens in many books. However, it is true that the reader will feel disoriented from the get go, so you should do your best to clarify everything (through dialogue or otherwise) as early as possible. Nobody drops a book completely in the first chapter, the absolute worst thing that could happen is people ...


3

The reason people say not to start your story with dialogue is because doing so throws you into the story without giving you any context. The exposition you give has no background to build off of, and the action that tends to follow feels meaningless to a new reader. Here, that lack of exposition is very prevalent. The problem I have--and that a lot of your ...


3

Chapter titles which aren't used as orientation sort of delineate the story: Potions Class, The Quidditch Match, A Long-Expected Party, The Tower of Cirith Ungol. They are a distillation, not even a précis but a suggestion, of what's coming. The question is whether you feel the reader needs this sort of narrative flag in the TOC and/or at the beginning of ...


3

I think chapter titles are one of the elements that contributes to the sense of a strong narrative voice -- that is, the sense that there is a narrator telling the story. This style is somewhat unfashionable today. Many authors like to create the sense of a stream of consciousness narration or to suppress the voice of the narrator in favor of the voice of ...


3

Your description has to be about the setup — the 5% that isn't about the discovery. Or maybe the first 10%, after the initial discovery which gets your protagonist over the threshold of the adventure. The rest will have to be vague puffery about the wonders of discovery, adventure, fantasy, thrills and chills, etc.


3

Millions of people bought tickets to see Titanic even though they knew in a advance that the ship sinks. They went back to see it again and again even though after the first time they knew exactly who lived and who died. Good books do not depend solely on the audience not knowing what happens. Rather, they rely on the identification with the characters to ...


2

Typically, when dreaming, we don't realize we're dreaming, so the way to write that most closely approximates the actual experience of dreaming is just to write as if it were any other scene, but with the unquestioned alterations to reality and believability that are typical of dreams. Although the character is fooled by the reality of the dream, you ...


2

I've written dream sequences, and remembering, a number of different ways. I think the main thing to focus on is having something that fits with your book. If your book is hard buttoned down realistic, then you could go the same route, or you could go decidedly against that making the dream sequence seem more ethereal. I think the only wrong way to do this ...


2

It's not "history" but rather "geography" that determines whether you should use kilometers are miles. If your characters are German or Russian, use kilometers, because that's what they use, even today. (Depending on the time, e.g. Tolstoy in the 19th century, a Russian might use "versts", which are just a bit more than a kilometer.) On the other hand, if ...


2

You summarize the problem very well when you said: "I can barely get maybe ten or fifteen thousand words in before I completely lose all interest." I really hope you'll reconsider the difficulty you are going through and see that it isn't something wrong with you, but is a very common challenge among most (if not all) authors. Most Common Problem ...


2

An "idea" is not copyrightable, only its expression is. "Bad faith" is an idea that is as old as time, that Satre "popularized," but did not invent. What is attributable to him is an exposition of what constitutes "bad faith (say a paragraph or longer). That would be copyrightable. That you would cite and attribute to him (and get permission to use). But ...


2

Since he or she appears to be your protagonist leaving out how such a powerful "tool" can exist is a powerful tool indeed. A kid's imagination is not going to be overwhelmed by the fact of such an ability but what your character does with it. If it's such an exceptional power how is this so? meaning...through usage show the exceptional nature of this ability....


2

It is not difficult to think of fantasy novels that don't have big battles (Voyage of the Dawn Treader). The battles, the strange creatures, etc, are set dressing. Sci Fi and Fantasy are often lumped together, and often appeal to the same readers, because they essentially do the same thing. They examine life through the lens of a different set of rules. The ...


2

Many people do make a living as novelists, but it's a very small percentage of the people who write. To offer some personal perspective, over the course of nearly 20 years writing, I've produced one traditionally published book (a picture book). It was well-reviewed, reasonably successful and went through more than one printing. Over the lifetime of the ...


2

There is actually quite a variety in the way dates are depicted in a newspaper article. It depends, as usual, on the nature of the event. Please note that the samples below are all fairly old. A quick scan of today's newspapers and on-line publications seems to show that detailed dates are on the decline, with just plain weekdays mentioned most frequent for ...


1

Ideas are not copyrightable. Having a character follow a philosophy is definitely not a form of plagiarism. Presenting that philosophy as a paraphrase of the original work might be plagiarism, though dubiously illegal (copyright on most of these works has long expired already anyway.) In most cases, if you just follow the idea but express it in your own way, ...



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