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17

If you want examples of successful diplomacy, try CJ Cherryh's Foreigner series, which I think is up to 15 books so far. The main character, Bren, is a diplomat between humans and the non-human species who are native to the planet where the humans crash-landed. Positively fascinating. Hard going at times, but I was never bored. And diplomacy is not ...


14

If the scene is boring, it’s not necessary. Think about what you actually need to convey to the reader to move the plot forward, write something interesting that delivers that necessary information, and skip everything else. This may be a good time to break the “show, don’t tell” rule. “Eight hours and two liters of vodka later, Ambassador Königsberg ...


13

I think you're confusing "foreshadowing" with "prophesizing." Foreshadow is derived literally from "before" + "shadow" — the shadow of an event falls before the event itself. The "shadow" means the reader can see something coming before it happens. (Imagine a very tall tree falling. The shadow of the tree reaches the ground before the tree does. You can see ...


12

I can think of four ways to lessen the repetitive use of sentences starting with a nominative pronoun like "She" (other than using the person's name). Changing the subject to a part or aspect of the character In some cases, one can present the action as performed by some part or aspect of the person. While this will typically use the genitive form of the ...


12

Unless your hero's enemies are all intensely stupid, he and his companions will be totally unarmed, and will have been carefully searched for anything valuable. Really, unless your goblins are nobler than those in most stories, readers will expect goblins to take everything from their captives. Your hero can't pull a lockpick or a poisoned pin from the ...


11

Sometimes for me, when growing the setting first, I find it generates new characters, details and interactions that lead to a story organically growing out of the exercise. There are many ways to start putting a story together and very few are right or wrong. Still… Pros A cure for writer’s block; if you want to write but don’t know where to begin, ...


11

It's actually totally easy. Just let your characters interact with their environment in a natrual way. Here's a real world example, showing different systems of paying the fare for a public bus: Out of breath from running to the bus stop, John was still struggling with the ticket machine when the bus approached around the corner. (Konstanz, Germany) ...


11

Novels frequently (usually, even) contain plot twists. The thing is, a twist in a novel is very different from a twist in a short story. You can make a twist the core of a short story, the one element that gives the whole work its theme and meaning. A good example is short horror fiction, where many (many many) stories rely on a surprise ending to "push ...


11

The biggest risk you have by describing the physical appearance of your character later on in your story is that your readers' mental image is shattered when you describe your character in detail. This can be quite jarring. The only way you're going to know for sure is when you ask someone to review your novel. Perhaps once you're ready you could ask them ...


10

I would only use the gendered pronoun if you know the gender of the animal in question. Lions have manes; lionesses don't. A calico or tortiseshell housecat is 99% guaranteed to be female, while an all-orange tabby housecat is 99% guaranteed to be male. Male robins have the bright red breast while female robins are brown. And so on. In your piece, the ...


10

Smart, clever, insightful, thoughtful, reserved, and mysterious are all abstract qualities. They are summaries. And the summaries lack all of the juicy details that lead people to attribute those qualities. Instead of describing such abstract characteristics, demonstrate them. Show the character doing clever things, or mysterious things. Let the reader ...


9

Actually, I think "it" is correct here because IT could have been a hallucination. Given that this is first person, it (for me at least) defines a 'distance' between the narrator and the object (bird). If the narrator had an intuitive or "can't explain it yet" strong understanding and sense of the bird, then indicating gender (like using he) would hint this ...


9

Although you are writing prose, not poetry, your text must still have rhythm for it to be pleasant to read. Adding words or rearranging the syntactic structure are good and common ways to create that rhythm. I think, your text reads better with the bold additions. Rhythm aside, I also think that the additions add meaningful content. Knowing that Erin was ...


8

If your antagonist is living in the present time (but is 1000 years old), then is there any reason to believe that his speech hasn't evolved? Think about what happens to people when they move to a new place with language patterns different from the ones they grew up with; don't they tend to adapt? That said, people adapt slowly, and a 1000-year-old ...


8

In addition to the always wise advice to omit the boring parts... Summarize the boring parts in a short paragraph. Maybe simply refer to them in passing. Complicate the terms of the negotiation until the negotiation becomes interesting. Add conflicts or problems until the scene becomes interesting. These conflicts need not be related to the subject of the ...


8

Let the character drive. As Dean Wesley Smith says: All setting is opinion. So make sure you describe everything that the character has an opinion about (or a reaction to) in the moment. If you want to describe something else, give your character a good reason to have an opinion about it. But be careful here. It's easy to slip into describing things for ...


8

There are many synonyms to but. For the meaning you are pointing out in your question, some of them would be still, nevertheless, nonetheless, though, although, and yet. You can find these and the ones for the other meanings in any site with synonyms lookup function, such as Thesaurus ("but" synonyms). However, it should be noted that it can be ...


8

To John's point, Fantasy and Sci-fi usually take place on made up worlds. Other novels take place anywhere from big cities like Hong Kong, New York, London, Toronto or small cities, sometimes in well known places and sometimes in "exotic" locations (what is exotic depends on your audience). I think when you base a story in a lesser known environment ...


8

Your title, first sentence, paragraph, page, and chapter are your hooks to catch the reader. Make sure they are baited well. So, if you start with internal monologue, it had better be interesting, not just bland, random thoughts about how it's high up on the wherever. I realize that was just an example, but compare: Bad: "It's so high up here," thought ...


8

As LaurenIpsum says, "foreshadowing" is not the same thing as "prophesying" or "predicting the future". Foreshadowing simply means giving the reader clues as to what is going to happen next. The alternative to foreshadowing is a story in which things happen for no apparent reason, or in which problems or solutions come out of nowhere. Suppose you read a ...


8

One possible solution would be to structure the narrative in such a way that the reader might come to believe it is a (rather long and drawn out) suicide note, explaining your character's reasons for her act. Obviously, this would only work if the potential suicide is right at the end of your story, rather than in the middle...


8

Even multi-tools generally place significantly more emphasis on one or two of the tools; Swiss Army Knives concentrate on providing a decent pocket knife. Even so, people use them not because any of the tools are as good as a tool dedicated to a specific purpose but because they are convenient and good enough for limited uses. There is a reason for the ...


7

Jokes have been extensivle researched by folklorists, linguists, ethnologists etc. If you need to write about humor in China, go read a book or journal article on humor in China. Really, writers need to learn to research like scientists and journalists. Don't think like a writer ("How can I make this up?") but like a researcher ("Where can I find this ...


7

First, a word of warning, the first thing most people will think after reading that paragraph describing your character is that she is a vampire. Aside from the vampiric similarities, I think your best bet to create an enjoyable character without human emotions is to look at how other similar characters have been portrayed previously and take what you like. ...


7

To start with, you have too many invented terms without definition all in a row. Hearthsoul, assassin pouches, luck fairy? You also have enough mistakes that I really can't tell if some of these things are typos or more jargon. His enemies tailed? The land drifted? What does that even mean? You "recite" something which is repeated or often said; it's not ...


7

You're writing in the first person, so I'd argue that correctness is less important than the way your character sees the world. Most people, I suspect, would use "it" in this case, but if your character is the sort to identify with or anthropomorphize animals, they might prefer to think of the bird as "he" or "she". If that is the case, you might want to ...


7

Each of these techniques will apply better to some topics than others. Make the learning process interesting. A few years ago, when my wife and I were preparing to visit Ecuador, we learned a little bit of Spanish. Every day I would listen to the next 30-minute Pimsleur Spanish lesson. And that evening we would walk the dog together, trying to tell each ...


7

Write it the way you feel it should be written. However, I would then finish the entire trilogy before finding an agent and shopping it to publishers or publishing it yourself. That way you can either promise your self-pub readers that the next two books are coming, or let your agent pitch that it's a finished trilogy. (I can't see a publisher taking on ...


7

The public image of public figures is largely made up or manipulated. Politicians hold doctorate degrees by questionable foreign universities or are being convicted of plagiarism. Degrees signify expertise to the voters, but take time and effort. George Clooney and other stars supposedly pay young women to play their spouses for some time so as to appear ...


7

The bits you put in parentheses don't (necessarily) take me out of the narrative. They are the character's opinions of people and events. That takes me deeper into the character, which is a big part of where the story is. One test for such parentheticals is: Do these opinions characterize the character in a way that serves the story? As Lauren points out, ...



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