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18

As I understand him, Palahniuk doesn't actually mean that you must avoid thought verbs, especially not at all cost. Palahniuk does use thought verbs in his own writing. That blog post is a suggestion for a writing exercise, not a rule for how you should write for publication. The important part in that post, to me, is what Palahniuk calls "unpacking". As I ...


6

The factor in believability is not setting or genre, but the ability of the writer. For example, I don't usually watch movies or tv series dealing with love relationships set in the present time because the depicted behavior almost always seems completely unrealistic to me. No one I know treats their family, friends and co-workers like the characters do in ...


5

Realism has several components. Different ones dominate in different genres/settings and among individual readers. (Real) setting accuracy: If you're describing a real place or a time in history, people who know something about that will respond based on how closely you match what they know. If there isn't a lot of noise and traffic on your mid-day NYC ...


4

I think it's generally a good idea to be on the lookout for words you use too much, and swap in something else. You should look for repetitive sentence structure and repetitive phrasing as well. My only suggestion for your example is for the second iteration, I would drop the word altogether, and just write "I didn't." It's more powerful that way.


3

From a strictly grammatical point Lauren's answer is right -- you're talking about something that happened in the past, so "that was" is correct. However, dialogue is often more colloquial and a first-person narrative can be more like dialogue than strict narrative. If you're trying to evoke the feel of the narrator actively telling a story to a room-full ...


2

I would always use "that was," because to my ear, "that's" always implies "that is," and your sentence is in the past tense.


2

Becoming works fine here, as a metaphor its valid enough and anything longer would bog down the prose. But I agree with Henry that out of context of other similar metaphors in your writing it could imply actual change, and distract the reader. However, I believe that the suggested alternatives are too heavy handed and would only bog down the prose further; ...


2

"becoming" implies an actual change in the form or appearance of the shelves and scrolls. Perhaps you would be better served with... "serving as" or "embodying"


2

The first one is correct, because it's a two-word clause modifying cloud. The second one would need some kind of verb in the last sentence, and the modifier is perilously close to dangling regardless. (Separately, isn't a compass a tool for scribing circles? Not sure how you'd create a heart shape that way.)


2

The middle one is fine, and the third one is okay. The first feels a little dodgy because you're veering close to a dangling participle, where you have a phrase which doesn't have a clear subject. In the first and third sentences, the context clarifies the subject, but I'd rewrite them so you don't get into the habit of sloppy antecedents: My head ...


2

I can see where he comes from saying that those words should be avoided, but I would not avoid them at all cost. If you were writing a "classic" detective story, where the rugged detective is telling the story you should be allower the use of: As I came back to my office, the door closing with a soft click behind me, I though about the days events. Some ...


2

I prefer your first - A cloud drifted lazily in the sky, heart-shaped, its curves flawlessly outlined as if drawn with a compass. As a personal preference, I'd remove adverbs where unnecessary - A lazy cloud drifted in the sky, heart-shaped, its curves flawless as if drawn with a compass.


2

Word choice What words and phrases you can use in your narration is determined by the character of the narrator and the stylistic distance you choose to employ. If you chose a very distanced narrative style, you must use standard language and a neutral, almost formalised style. If you want to write close to the person of your narrator, you can come as ...


1

I think you will still have a sense of realism. As long as you explain the physics laws/magic laws/whatever differs before they take effect, the reader will know why/how things are happening. As long as your definitions are clear, detailed, and consistent with the effects, you should be fine. Consider: Any novel that deals with magic has an unknown set of ...


1

You're right, it does sound a bit weird. That's only because of the tense of course. If you were writing in the present tense, it would be just fine. While no professional, my suggestion would be to use a different word. In the above example, substitute was and make it a question. Why was I doing this? Was I afraid of losing him? It doesn't quite ...


1

Second one is good. First sounds weird. Third one is begging for another sentence: And with that he put on the climbing shoes, the harness, and attached himself to the rope. At the cliff's edge he rechecked every knot one last time. Everything set, he threw the end of the rope down the cliff, and began his descent. Maybe put in a mutter: And ...


1

Exposure to a chemical (or radiation, or some other toxin). All the suspects are in a particular area, or do a particular task, but only the murderer gets exposed to the MacGuffinium. The suspects are screened in some manner, and the murderer submits to the screen, thinking all evidence has been cleaned away (using normal methods), but the screen which the ...


1

I think a better way is just to go straight for the metaphor without any helper verb. Here it is with a few other modifications to streamline the prose: The corridor was deeper than I thought, as dim and hazy as the bottom of the sea. Whole reefs of shelves and scrolls kept the light from flooding in. This introduces the sea metaphor at the end of the ...


1

I'm not a lawyer, so the views expressed here are those of a layman, and writer. Your situation appears to resemble the one in "The Red Hat Club" litigation, which the plaintiff won. This does not appear to be a situation where the author created a "generic" character that somewhat resembles you: female, college-educated, from a certain geography, etc. It ...


1

Advice of that sort should rarely be taken absolutely. If you get advice like that from a reasonable person, they will not say, "Never use ..." but rather "Avoid ..." There are lots of writing techniques that are easy to overuse or mis-use, and so you should be careful about them. But just because something is easy to abuse doesn't mean you should never use ...


1

I don't think there's any huge detriment story-wise (or even grammar-wise), but I would suggest "this" for the first and "that" for the second. However, I wouldn't phrase the first passage that way since it's a bit stilted and odd to read. You could say… "Well, goodbye then," he said as he picked up his hat and ran out the door. …or you could just say… ...



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