Hot answers tagged

29

Use your best ideas. Write them as well as you can. Yes, your writing will improve with experience. And your ideas will also improve with experience. If you reserve your "best ideas" until you're a better writer, then your early stories will exhibit neither your best ideas nor your best writing. Why hamper yourself like that? Sometimes people love great ...


28

There are no age restrictions on publishing - you may need to get someone else to sign contracts for you, but that's a minor detail. That said, it's pretty hard to get a book published, even for adults who've been working at writing for a long time. It's probably best if you focus on writing because it's fun, and give yourself a chance to explore without ...


16

I'm not going to tell you how to solve your problem. Quite frankly, I don't know how to solve your problem, despite having faced it countless times myself in the past. Instead, I'm going to show you why you have this problem in the first place. I'm going to show you how to treat the cause instead of the symptoms. Not knowing what to include in your novel ...


14

If you think the title is the best fit for your novel, you should keep it. There are many novels with the same name in the market, which makes it a little hard to find a novel with smaller market presence written by unknown author. Thus why, it is only a problem if the novel you're writing has the same name with another novel written by an author with more ...


13

Although the narrator can't see his own face, he'd still feel his face moving, so I don't think that's the reason it feels strange. It sounds strange to me because the actions sound intentional. Facial expressions are generally involuntary. I don't raise my eyebrows in surprise -- they rather do it of their own accord. Your writing could reflect this: "...


12

We have four variants of foreign language dialog in fiction and the corresponding solutions how we can handle this: foreign language foreign language is limited to makes up a major short phrases or part of all dialog occurs only rarely ...


11

I would say that it depends on how you want to progress with your story. Every (good) book, or series of books, that I've ever read sets the tone for the rest of the book in the first few pages. Whether that's with a mysterious murder, the establishment of a prophecy/chosen one or world-building and exposition, the rest of the book will continue with the ...


10

I had a poetry teacher who talked about "tired language," referring to clichés like this. Take your original metaphor apart and break it down to the real, concrete, non-representative ideas. Are Eri and Mom so far apart that not one single thought is shared between them? Are they speaking as though they are watching two different TV shows, or experienced ...


10

As @kitzfox says, there are times when you would know what your face must look like, and it would be reasonable for a narrator to say so. I stared wide-eyed. Sometimes you would reasonably guess. "Bob is the smartest man here", my girlfriend announced to the room. I could feel myself reddening with embarrassment. But other times it would be ...


10

Not only will the potential pitfalls largely vary from person to person (not to mention what different people think they are), but they are innumerable, and in a variety of fields. When you are an experienced writer, you will look back at what you write now, and cringe regardless of what you do. Why? Experience. The more you write, the better you get. ...


9

See if you can add a twist. One time Harlan Ellison wrote: She looked like a million bucks. Realizing what a horrible cliche that was, he changed it: She looked like a million bucks, tax free. For a lame example (that twists the cliche by adding another one): It sometimes felt as if we spoke different languages. British English and American ...


9

Don't discount yourself because you're young. That's great that you're starting off so early. Keep at it! Though I don't believe anyone will have a problem with it, there are different scenarios depending on how you want to be published (self-pub vs traditional pub). For traditional, no one is going to ask your age when you're submitting queries, so if ...


8

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 ...


8

You might want to check out Brandon Sanderson's Laws of Magic. His tips were a great thing to consider when I was writing my story. They are in summary: An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic. This means that if magic is used often, the mechanics of it need to be well ...


8

The "first draft" and extensive re-writing you alluded to is often what "pantsers" - people who write by the seat of their pants, without outlines, produce. Those aren't what I would really call a first draft, since they can be unstructured messes or streams of consciousness (though they can sometiems be good). They then take that material and structure it, ...


8

Overbearing pride. He's done a lot. He's seen a lot. He has a lot of experience. He's very accomplished, and he thinks anyone would benefit from learning from him. The "nostalgia" and "being overlooked" you mentioned are the keys. He loved being helpful, loved being the strong protector, loved being the one everyone came to, loved the attention. It was for ...


8

Show don’t tell is not about the way you structure a description of some action. It is about allowing the reader to reach their own conclusions. For example, if you want your reader to understand that a particular character is an evil person, you can tell them: He was an evil, evil man. … or you can show them: He plunged the knife into her neck. ...


8

Use your good ideas. Just don't give away the rights to your creation. Make sure that you can re-use your story and elements. I've seen countless stories about people who made a wonderful classic early in their career. (I'm talking about creators, and not necessarily writers specifically. Could be writers, game makers, etc.) Then later in life, they ...


7

You can use semi-colons when you want to use commas as well. For example: He had three ties: a red one, which he hated; a striped one, which he loved; and a green one that had been given to him by his aunt. Sometimes you can enclose extra information in parentheses. For example: I like several different dishes: lasagne (only if it is made with ...


7

You need to run your book past readers who are capable of assessing it objectively. That may or may not include your mother, but it should certainly include more people than just your mother. Look among your friends and friends-of-friends for people who read a lot of books in the same genre/style as yours. Ask them to give a critique. You are not obliged to ...


7

In the Hero's Journey, this is called The Ordinary World, and it's important to establish. The Ordinary World is what the Hero must leave to go on the Journey. This World may be good or bad, whole or broken, the desired status quo or something which needs to be fixed, but it's where the Hero starts. The point of the Journey may be to get back to this World ...


7

I believe that the traditional sense of the term fairy tale is used for a fairly concise story that is written to appeal mainly to children. The general context of a fairy tale would be the standard "Once upon a time.... and they lived happily ever after, THE END" Generally these stories involved magic, fantasy characters and creatures, and were meant to ...


7

The range is enormous, but the average income for published authors is spectacularly low—around $500 a year. No missing zero. Five hundred. The tiny minority who hit the bestseller lists will do quite well. Many novels sell movie rights. Most are never made into movies, but if you are lucky enough to see your book turned into a major movie, of course you ...


7

Everybody has redeeming qualities and everybody has flaws. Any character that doesn’t have both is unrealistic. I don’t think it is a good idea to separate antagonist and protagonist when doing character work. Those are plot roles. Character-wise, everybody sees themselves as a protagonist. Everybody thinks they are the good guy. Hitler thought he was the ...


6

I think this all depends on how common the metaphor is. Some metaphors are so common that speakers don't recognize them as metaphors any longer, and replacing them is unnecessary. A very common metaphor is when you say that someone breaches a subject, meaning that this person gathers all their courage and addresses what everyone has been avoiding to talk ...


6

Like most stylistic choices, I don't think this is a problem unless you're doing it a lot. The repetition in your second example seems find because it's a deliberate echo, not an accidental one, but if you're using repetition over and over (see what I did there?), you may want to tone it down. (In the first example, I'd say the "continued" is redundant, if ...


6

In many (maybe most) cases over-research is a distraction our minds create to make us believe we are working on a project that we really don't want to write for some reason. It could be that we are afraid to write it because we have this beautiful idea of what we want and we are unsure if we could ever write it that well. The Best Advice The best thing ...


6

I think what makes anything matter to readers is: it matters to a character that readers care about it matters to the character for reasons readers can identify with


6

If you don't want to use an apostrophe, then consider a diaeresis. It used to be common in English to mark vowels that come after vowels, but need to be pronounced separately, with a diaeresis for example: noöne coördinate Zoë Also, this format is used in Lord of The Rings, e.g. in Fëanor, to make sure the e is pronounced separately. (You can read this ...


6

A few ideas: You could have a character who doesn't speak that language ask how the name is pronounced, or mispronounce it and receive a correction. Obviously it would look contrived for this to keep happening, but doing it once or twice would be enough to introduce the general rule. Use Matt Ellen's idea of a diaeresis / umlaut for the first two names ...



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