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5

There's an easy answer: It depends on the genre. Generally speaking, genre readers (that is, detective fiction, science fiction, fantasy, romance) will expect a certain degree of predictability - you are in control of the degree, knowing that some pleasant twists and surprises are welcome, but something too experimental will probably be received less warmly. ...


4

There are some stories where backstory is extremely important; there are some where it's entirely inconsequential. The easy answer is: If you know what kind of story you're telling, you know whether backstory is important or not. To take a few simple examples, in a light adventure, or a police procedural, you probably don't need anything more than ...


4

Google Maps is fine for geography, but your question mentions "cultural and political references." If you cannot travel there, you have to find some way to be exposed to and/or interact with the people there. Cities have their own personalities. They have neighborhoods, cliques, sections, classes, ethnicities. With New York in particular, you have boroughs,...


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Surprise is the cheapest of literary devices. People often reread their favorite books and re-watch their favorite movies. They would not do so if their enjoyment of them depended on surprise. With effective storytelling our hearts can still be in our mouths for a character at a critical juncture no matter how often we have read the story. If we can enjoy a ...


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 ...


2

Google Maps and Street View is your friend. Take a virtual walk, learn the area, click on local stores, read reviews for these stores, check bus & metro schedules, find out about the parks, etc. If you're interested in more in-depth elements, you'll need to provide more details about the particular elements. But basically, the answer is the same: ...


1

It sounds like your critic is telling you that your characters aren't three-dimensional enough for her to care about them or see them as more than thinly sketched "types." Adding backstory might or might not help that problem. The best writing advice I've heard on detail (Sturgeon, via Delany) is that you should know much more detail than ever makes it ...


1

This is a screenplay so I think your initial salient points are plenty. I want to learn about the character by seeing what he does not have all kinds of details about why he ties he shoes a certain way. Viki King explains that a lot of this backstory writing is often a way that authors escape doing the real work of writing the screen play. How To Write A ...


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Characters are defined by what they want and what they are willing to do to get it. The specific details you give about them are there to justify what they want and what they are willing to do to get it. Joe wants X because he was raised by wolves in a trailer park in the 70s. Mary is willing to do Y because she was raised on a commune in Argentina by a ...


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Use of a predictable sequence can bore your audience but can also make them feel smart. There was an article that concluded that audiences preferred knowing the story (http://www.ew.com/article/2015/07/27/trailer-spoilers-southpaw). A predictable plot element is a miniature version of this. The audience knows what is going to happen ("Don't open the closet!")...



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