Hot answers tagged

27

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 ...


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 ...


15

I don't think your protagonist has to be ordinary to be relatable. While I haven't read the series, isn't the point of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid that the protagonist isn't the "healthy good guy hero" type? Writer Graham Moore just won an Oscar for his screenplay adapting The Imitation Game, a biography of codebreaker Alan Turing, and said that Turing was ...


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

I would suggest a different approach than the other answers. If you are completely new to writing, just write. Think about other areas of learning. If you just had your first physics class, the next step won't be building a car. The first thing will probably be something like a battery, two wires, and a lightbulb. Writing is the same. Like anything it ...


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 ...


10

Try plotting backwards. The writers of House, MD often worked this way. They figured out some esoteric disease or ailment (or perhaps something not so esoteric but easy to confuse with other problems) and then worked backwards to lay red herrings and misdirection. So you have the ending you want (heroine gets macguffin). Work backwards from there. Each ...


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

Rules? No, not beyond any that your publisher or editor might have. But one factor to consider is that, assuming you're not publishing in a specialized or foreign market, your readers probably won't know how to pronounce the words in a different alphabet -- you can't sound things out if you don't know the pronunciation rules. This means that the words you ...


9

Ellipses are used differently in academic or non-fiction writing and narrative fiction. In academic non-fiction, ellipses indicate that the author has omitted part of the citation. In narrative fiction an ellipsis indicates a pause in spoken language. (I'll come back to that.) Other options for indicating pauses or breaks in spoken language in narrative ...


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

I think you've gotten some bad advice. Lead characters do not need to be "ordinary", they need to be realistic. You could easily write a book from Luna Lovegood's point of view, provided you could make her actions relatable, which is to say, logical and reasonable. That's not the same as "ordinary", that just means we can understand why she's doing things. ...


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 ...


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 ...


7

It gives the most room to expand. As the story progresses, we observe the change of the protagonist, be it growth in strength or fall to corruption, or getting tangled with powers, or struggling to retain virtues against onslaught of temptations. By starting with someone "generic" you give yourself the most room to expand, to make the change more drastic ...


7

Most people work with the thought in mind that their piece of writing will go on to be well received, and more success will come based around that, so will leave doors open for sequels. However, nobody wants to read an incomplete book. Therefore you will usually find that most things will wrap up quite well at the end, and most plot points will be handled ...


7

It is called an epigraph or motto.


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

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 ...


6

When I was young and started to write, I was so in love with the process of writing that I thought to publish that process. I made a huge effort of recreating my notebooks into a layout program, with all the crossed out words, the notes in the margins, the sideways and upside down text. I got that book printed, and it looked very fine and interesting. I gave ...



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