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Feb
4
comment How many errata are too many?
@SimonWhite Did you read my last paragraph? There's nothing you can do about it, so ... where do you go from there? If the book is unreliable or unreadable, then throw it away. Otherwise, all you can do is put up with it.
Feb
3
comment Why would an agent request an exclusive submission?
Okay, I see I misunderstood your question. Still, the gist of my first paragraph still applies: The agent has to spend time deciding if he wants to represent you, and he doesn't want to spend a lot of time and then have you go elsewhere. Less of an issue though. I doubt most agents spend months deciding whether to represent a writer. Waiting six weeks to get an answer isn't really very long. I suppose if you have to go through 20 agents before you find one who will take you on, this would add up.
Feb
1
comment When describing novel word counts to agents / publishers, are chapter titles and epigraphs included?
Before computers, word counts were estimated. You'd take your typed pages, count the number of letters per line, multiply by lines per page, multiply by number of pages, and divide by 6. (6 being taken as the "standard" length of an English word.) You didn't worry about blank spaces on pages or any of that. Because counting the exact number of words in a novel on typed sheets of paper would be a very long and tedious task. Today, a computer can give an exact word count in a fraction of a second. So ... I don't know whether editors today want the old-style estimate or an exact word count.
Jan
22
comment How many names in a book are too many?
I suspect a reader will have more difficulty keeping track of characters than a writer. To the writer, this book is his life for a period of many months, maybe years. He thinks about it constantly, writes and rewrites, etc. To the reader, it is probably a few days worth of entertainment. He is not going to devote the intellectual resources to it that the writer did. Thus, I think writers often don't realize that the number of characters is getting out of hand.
Jan
21
comment Is it plagiarism to use something from a nonfiction work and put it into fiction?
If the real issue is cultural appropriate and not plagiarism ... I was going to say you might want to edit the question, but at this point you've gotten several answers addressing plagiarism that would be rendered non-sensical. I suggest you post a new question.
Jan
21
comment Is it plagiarism to use something from a nonfiction work and put it into fiction?
"Cultural appropriation" isn't something you can get into legal trouble over. If you're a college student or professor, and your college is very PC, you might possibly get into some sort of academic trouble. That depends very much on the subjective opinions of the people in charge. If you're not a college student or professor, then it's just a matter of your own ethics. At that point it's totally debatable. I'd say that incorporating elements of a culture into a novel in a way that portrays them as positive is honoring the culture. Of course if you ridicule them, different story.
Jan
19
comment Can you write a pro-racism book?
There are several big right-wing publishers in the U.S., like Regnery and WND. I doubt any of them would publish a racist book, as the American right wing has opposed racism since at least Abraham Lincoln.
Jan
18
comment How to write negative events without laying blame in an insulting way
"400 pages of hate-mongering isn't a good story" Exactly. The people who are targets of your hate certainly aren't going to read it for pleasure. If your story is somehow established as "important" and "controversial", your targets might read it to know what the other side is saying, but few books reach that status. It might appeal to people who hate the group you are hating. Personally I can't imagine wanting to read a book that's a long diatribe against even a group I disagree with. Maybe I don't hate anyone enough.
Jan
18
comment How to write negative events without laying blame in an insulting way
@VilleNiemi The past was worse "in every way"? That's a very broad statement. Technology certainly makes life more comfortable for most people in Europe and North America. On the other hand, I've seen statistics claiming that more people were killed for their religion in the past 100 years than in all previous history. The two most destructive wars in history were in the past 100 years. What's your standard? I'd say it's bad that there's more promiscuity and pornography than two or three hundred years ago. Of course I could list many things that are better, I'm not saying it's all worse.
Jan
18
comment In English non-fiction, should I try to place the important parts at the beginning of the sentence?
@rolfedh Umm, so? Are you saying that my using an example from fiction is invalid because the question specifically asked about non-fiction? If so, I was trying to make a point by using an extreme case. If you read the next paragraph, I then said how this applies to less dramatic examples like are more commonly found in non-fiction. Or maybe I'm just missing your point.
Jan
13
comment Where to draw the line between fantasy and reality in a story?
Second thought: I don't know how hard it is to cut someone's arm off with a single blow from a sword. There's surprisingly little opportunity to do this in my day-to-day life. If you said that Fwacbar was a great and mighty warrior, and he was carrying a strong and sharp sword, and then you say he cut someone's arm off with a single blow, I'd accept that as plausible. Whether it really is I don't know. Need to get an expert on Medieval combat here. The only sword I've ever used is a fencing foil with a rubber tip.
Jan
12
comment Where to draw the line between fantasy and reality in a story?
To me, if you say that someone can magically fly, I'd buy that the magic also somehow prevents him from suffocating or having a brain hemorrhage from low air pressure. But the nature of unconsciousness and the power of swords, if you want to make it different from the real world, you have to give some reason. It could be magic, it could be some pseudo-science, but you have to give SOME reason. When I talk about setting the stage, you can't just say "that's how it is". The explanation doesn't have to be rigorous science, but it has to sound vaguely plausible.
Jan
7
comment Show the translation of foreign language thoughts in a manuscript?
Yes. If you're writing a book for an English-speaking audience, then 99% of the time you should just translate all dialog to English. Anything else just gets confusing and tedious. The only exceptions I can think of are, (a) as @lostinfrance says, a few odd words to add flavor, and (b) when something about the original language is important, like the fact that two words sound similar in Spanish and so might cause confusion to a Spanish speaker even though they don't in English.
Jan
6
comment Will changing a protagonist into an antagonist alienate readers?
@joe BTW From the audience's point of view, Anakin Skywalker does not start out as a good guy and then become evil. Quite the reverse: he starts out evil and is ultimately redeemed. And in any case he's not the hero. It's quite common for lesser characters to turn out to be evil: the hero thought he was his friend but he betrays him, etc.
Jan
6
comment Will changing a protagonist into an antagonist alienate readers?
@joe As I said in my post, a hero can certainly be flawed. There's a big difference between "struggles with his dark side" and "becomes a villain". In many stories, a key element is that the hero struggles with base motives but ultimately overcomes them. If he gives in and does something evil and is never redeemed, we put that in a special category of "dark stories". Very few stories start out with someone portrayed as basically a good and likable person, the reader is sucked in to liking him, and then he turns evil. There are examples, of course, but I think it's hard to pull off.
Jan
4
comment How can I tell if a novel idea is made for a series or a stand-alone?
Sorry, maybe I circled around too much. What I was trying to say was: If the nature of the story is such that it is naturally divided into installment where each installment ends essentially where it began, then this is logically a series. Like a detective story or doctor story or some types of space travel story. If it doesn't logically divide into episodes, or if any attempt to divide into episodes does not result in units that end essentially where they began, than this is not logically a series. Like a romance or war story.
Jan
3
comment How do I structure an essay into a thesis statement and three points in three paragraphs? -this is not a school homework
Hmm. "This is not homework", but "My teacher wants ..."
Dec
27
comment Switching to fiction software
Whoa, but tape decks? Is that some new-fangled replacement for punch cards? :)
Dec
27
comment In English non-fiction, should I try to place the important parts at the beginning of the sentence?
@Wrzlprmft Not really. If we don't put the most important thing last, it doesn't follow that we must put it first. We could put it second or third or fourth, etc.
Dec
24
comment Swearing in a book, within a context. Too offensive?
@Smoj I agree. As you say, deliberate shock value has diminishing returns: the more it's done, the less effective it becomes. Then you have to ratchet up to the next higher level of shock value. This has the potential to seriously date your work: If society as a whole moves toward accepting higher levels of vulgarity as "normal", then what is shocking today will be humdrum in a few years. If society moves toward more stricter standards, then what was an entertaining level of shock today will be over the top offensive in a few years. Note societies regularly go back and forth on such things.