#writing advice writing resources
Writer's Guide: Guns
I'm not the biggest fan of guns but I need them in my new WIP. Guns are probably one of the most used tools within most medias, besides being one of the most misused tools. So how can we write them? (my other post on guns focuses on the damage guns can do to a body so go there if that's what your looking for)
Part of a Gun
Action: The action is the brain of the gun. It is the part where you load, fire and eject the casings.
Stock: The stock is the handle of the gun. It is made up of the butt and the fore-end.
Barrel: The Barrel is the nose of the gun, the point where the bullets are fired from. Once a bullet is fired, it travels through the barrel and out the muzzle.
Muzzle: the muzzle is the hole the bullet exit from.
Bore: The bore is the inside of the barrel
Cylinder: The Cylinder holds the rounds in a revolver. It rotates as the gun is fired, pumping bullets into the chamber.
Grip: The Grip is where you hold gun.
Hammer: The Hammer on a revolver is a pin like instrument that strikes the primer which fires the bullet from the gun.
Clip: An clip stores the rounds of ammunition on a single line-like device that can be placed into magazine.
Magazine: The Magazine is a container that is spring activated, which can be detachable of fixed. It holds cartridges for a repeating firearm.
Trigger: The Trigger is what you pull yo fire the gun
Trigger Guard: The trigger guard is the loop that fits in front of the trigger to shield it from accidental firing.
Bullet: is the projectile that exits the gun.
Cartridges/Shell: This is the case, primer, propellant and projectile (bullet). The bullet sits in the cartridge case.
Shotshell: Are rounds of shotgun ammunition, containing pellets rather than a bullet.
1. Keep the muzzle pointed downwards (not near your feet or others) when not using the gun.
2. Unload gun when not in use
3. Always check the safety.
4. Be sure of your aim. Don't fire blindly because you'll end up wasting bullets and you might hurt somebody
5. If the gun is jammed, don't look down the barrel to see why it's blocked. Point it away from you, open the action and remove the blockage safely.
6. Keep your barrel clean. Any excess cleaning fluid even dirt can mess up your shot or even cause blockages that can burst the barrel
7. Don't alter your gun in any way on your own. Even if you're a self proclaimed expert, don't touch the gun. You can fuck up the intergrity of the weapon.
How to Hold a Handgun
1. Your dominant hand should grip the gun, high along the back strap (back of grip). This will give you better leverage and handle the recoil better.
2. Place your other hand against the other side of the grip. Four fingers should sit snugly under the trigger, while your index finger should rest against the trigger itself.
How to Hande a Rifle/Long barrelled Gun
Hold the rifle with two hands, hold the grip of the rifle with your dominant hand. Your fingers should wrap about the base of the rifle, under the trigger guard.
Your non-dominant hand should be wrapped firmly around the base of the grip. Holding the gun right will help reduce recoil and ensure better control.
How to fire a Gun
Align your sights. Your gun has a sight at the front and at the rear. Aim and align your sights through these points. There should be equal space between the sights.
Set your sight. When you’re aiming a gun, you’re you are looking through the front sight, the rear sight, and your target. When you're aiming at the target, it will look blurry. The sights should but clear.
Press rather than pull the trigger. You should squeeze it, applying constant pressure until the weapon fires.
Things every Writer should know about Guns
Hollow Point Bullets are not more deadly than full metal jacket bullets. Though a hollow point will cause damage, full metal bullets are actually more likely to over-penetrate and move when with the flesh, causing a more devastating wound.
Guns are really loud. How loud exactly? Most heavy duty guns could cause hearing loss. It simply isn't possible for two characters to have a lovely chat while firing weapons.
Rifles with scopes make it easier to shoot but they won't make a beginner a sudden genius marksman. Scopes help but they don't perform miracles.
Shotguns shoot shells not bullets.
Your character should not tuck a just fired handgun into their waistband or else they will get a nasty burn.
Silencers or better yet, suppressors do not silence your shots. They actually lower the sound by a few decibels.
Don't have your character fire gun sideways. They will fuck up their wrist and look stupid while doing it.
Most rifles and shotguns aren't pump action
If you drop your gun, if won't fire itself.
The clip and magazine are two different things. They can't be used as synonyms.
When somebody is shot, they don't go flying back. They crumple on the spot.
The exit wound of a bullet is larger than the entry point.
Most beginners will have trouble with recoil. Bloody noses and black eyes are common is one doesn't know what their doing.
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Insult names to use instead of "idiot,"
None of these are actually meant to be hateful, if any of these have truely offensive meanings (such as the r word) that I was unaware of, please tell me so I can remove it! Tried to avoid cursing, but it contains some!
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Resources for Writing Injuries
Patreon || Ko-Fi || Masterlist || Work In Progress
General Information | More
Diffuse Axonal Injury
Blunt cardiac injury
Pneumothorax (traumatic pneumothorax, open pneumothorax, and tension pneumothorax)
Penetrating injuries (see also, gunshot wound & stab wound sections)
Heart (Blunt Cardiac Injury)
General Information | More
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Injuries to ligaments
Injuries to tendons
Chemical Eye Burns
Subconjunctival Hemorrhages (Eye Bleeding)
Skin & Bleeding
General Information (Skin Injuries) | More (Arteries)
femoral artery (inner thigh)
thoracic aorta (chest & heart)
abdominal aorta (abdomen)
brachial artery (upper arm)
radial artery (hand & forearm)
common carotid artery (neck)
aorta (heart & abdomen)
axillary artery (underarm)
popliteal artery (knee & outer thigh)
anterior tibial artery (shin & ankle)
posterior tibial artery (calf & heel)
arteria dorsalis pedis (foot)
Abrasions (Floor burns)
In the Head
In the Neck
In the Shoulders
In the Chest
In the Abdomen
In the Legs/Arms
In the Hands
In The Feet
In the Head
In the Neck
In the Chest
In the Abdomen
In the Legs/Arms
Guide to Story Researching
A Writer’s Thesaurus
Words To Describe Body Types and How They Move
Words To Describe…
Writing Intense Scenes
Masterlist | WIP Blog
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BUILD A CHARACTER (Masterpost)
- Name Generator
- Reedsy Generator
- Fake Name Generator
- Fantasy Name Generator
- Baby Names
- Baby Center
- Long Names List by @leafvy
- Giant Name List by @serifsystem
- Dark Academia Inspired Names by @victoriahazelnut
- Dark Academia Inspired Names part II by @victoriahazelnut
- Modern Names Similar to Constellations by @victoriahazelnut
- Personality Generator
- Random Character Traits Generator by @lucalicatteart
- Random Zodiac Sign Generator
- Zodiac Generator
- 638 Personality Traits
- Character Traits List with Examples
- 800 Character Traits: The Ultimate List (+ How to Develop a Good Character Step-by-Step)
- The Signs in a Relationship by @neo-wonderland
- Character Flaws by @madswritess
- A List of Character Quirks by @psychidion
- Victorian Detective by @iamacuteapplepie
- Little Quirks for Future Reference by @elvenwinters
- Things your Character Might be Afraid of by @rpmemesbyarat
- Masterlist of Characters’ Deepest Fears by @bailey-writes
- Kassoon Backstory Generator
- Character Biography Generator
- How to Write Compelling Character Backstories: Step-by-Step Guide
- Childhood Memory Generator
- 33 Life Events For Your Character’s Backstory by @creativerogues
- Important Life Events
- Past Traumas by @blackacre13
>Goals & Motives
- Character Goal Generator
- Character Motivation Generator
- Motive Generator
- Secret Generator
- 300 Secrets for your Character by @crissverahelps
- What Secret does your Character Keep?
- 150 secrets/plots by @sunshineandtearph
- Appearence Generator
- Portrait and Figure Drawing References
- Appearence Adjectives
- Adjectives to Describe People
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Writing pirates: Pirates vs Privateers (part one)
Before we dive into the glamour and destruction of a pirate’s life, it’s important to establish and difference between the crews who operated the seven seas in the 1700s.
A group of men who robbed and plundered the sea, but also committed felonies, robberies and murders in any haven, river or creek where the Lord High Admiral had jurisdiction.
The Lord High of Admiral = The ceremonial head of the Royal Navy (also known as someone who appears to be in charge, but holds very little influence, like most monarchs today)
Jurisdiction: The official power to make legal decisions and judgements
Pirates who preyed on Spanish ships and ports in the Caribbean Sea. To Spain, they were nothing more than ordinary pirates, but for their nations, they were much more than that.
Spain strived to keep all their possessions from the rest of the world, and the rise of buccaneers came apparent when the English occupied Jamaica, which provided them with a base to attack Spanish settlements.
Pirates (and privateers) who operated in North Africa. Their base primarily in the ports of Salé, Rabat, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli.
(also referred to as: barbary pirates, barbary corsairs or ottoman corsairs)
An armed vessel, consisting of a commander and his crew, who was licensed to attack, seize and loot ships of hostile nations.
The license was issued in form of a document, which was called the Letter of Marque (and Reprisal, LOMAR for short). The letter was written in ponderous legal phrases, and decorated with an elaborate pen and ink flourishes.
The Captain, or commander, of the ship, was expected to keep a journal, as well as hand over ships to the Admiralty court to be assessed and valued. A proportion of the ship’s value went to the sovereign, while the rest was divided between the owners of the ship, the captain, and his crew.
Admiralty court: jurisdiction over maritime law, including cases regarding shipping, ocean, and sea laws
Sovereign: king, queen, or other royal ruler of a country
An authorized privateer, and get this, was recognized by law, and could not be prosecuted for piracy, which in turn caused the system to be wide open for abuse, and most privateers were nothing more than licensed pirates.
Privateers, in simpler words, were basically pirates with papers. They were hired to carry out military activities, and in many ways, their actions mirrored a pirate’s, only difference being, they couldn’t be prosecuted for the crimes they committed.
Also, fun fact! In the 1700s, also known as the golden era of piracy, 98% of the men operating as pirates in the Caribbean and western Atlantic, had formerly either been seamen in the merchant service, the Royal Navy, or even served as privateers.
Not every man suffered the same fate, however. Captain Woodes Rogers, a former privateer, became the first Royal Governor over the Bahamas, and was tasked with the dangerous mission of establishing a well-organized government, that would force every last pirate in the Nassau to surrender. [x]
Today, both privateer and buccaneer are being used as a synonym for pirates, but it’s important to know that in the golden era, they were not the same.
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Romance Writing Resources
Basic Tips to Write a Healthy Relationship
Tips for Long-term Relationships
What being in love looks like
Writing kiss scenes
Romantic Couple Development Questions
36 Questions that Lead to Falling in Love
An article going into more detail about the above 36 Questions
Romance novel story arc structure
Springhole.net romance resource page
~Grand List of Writing Resources~
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Okay but hear me out: the second and the third chapters are the hardest in the entire book.
Everybody complains about chapter one and endings, and I get it - that's your big money moment, make or break. That's what matters the most to the reader. But I think in terms of sheer difficulty for the writer, in terms of individual chapters, the very beginning is where projects live and die.
Chapter one is an idea. I have probably thirty or forty chapter ones sitting in my computer that never went anywhere, or were cool thoughts but didn't have a plot behind them. They were scenarios with no inertia. One chapter a story does not make.
But the second chapter, that's where things start to change. Chapter two, in most books, is pure setup. You're not just writing the immediate aftermath of the first chapter, you're writing the whole damn book in a few thousand words. That's hard. It takes a LOT of mental energy and requires you to do the actual work of plotting, whereas chapter one you can just dash down whatever inspo you've got whether it goes somewhere or not.
That's tough as hell, but I don't count two chapters as a story either. Two chapters is still nothing but an idea. Chapter three is where the character takes their first action influenced by the inciting event, makes their first move, goes from a person to a protagonist. Chapter three is where you stop telling the reader what could be and start showing them what is. I think you can have the best idea in the world, but if it can't carry itself to chapter three, it's not a story. Certainly not a novel, yet. And that's why the beginning of a project is so critical, because you're mega frontloading and roadmapping a lot of what comes later right at the very beginning.
So when you're starting your next WIP, don't make your goal be to reach the end of the book. Shoot for chapter three. I promise you, once you've got three chapters down in your word processor, the rest of the book will be a whole lot easier.
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So You Want Your OC to be Jewish
So you’re writing a story and you want to make a Jewish character—great! I’m here to help. I always want more Jewish representation but I want good Jewish representation, so this is my attempt to make a guide to making a Jewish character. What are my credentials? I’m Jewish and have been my whole life. Obligatory disclaimer that this is by no means comprehensive, I don’t know everything, all Jews are different, and this is based on my experiences as an American Jew so I have no idea, what, if any, of this applies to non-American Jews.
If there’s anything you want me to make a post going more into detail about or if there’s anything I didn’t mention but you want to know please ask me! I hope this is helpful :) Warning, this is long.
If you are Jewish you can use the word Jew(s), e.g. “She’s dating a Jew.” If you are not Jewish you cannot use the word Jew(s). This is not up for debate. Non-Jews calling us Jews has a negative connotation at best. Don’t do it and don’t have your characters do it.
Basics, Plus My Random Thoughts that Didn’t Fit Anywhere Else
A confusing enduring issue is, what is Judaism? It’s a religion, but some Jews aren’t religious; is it a race? A nationality? A culture? A heritage? The only constant is that we are seen as “other.” There’s a lot of debate, which makes it confusing to be Jewish and as such it’s common for Jews to struggle with their Jewish Identity. However many people agree that Jews are an ethnoreligious group, aka Judaism is a religion and an ethnicity.
Temple/Synagogue/Shul = Jewish place of worship. Shul is usually used for Orthodox synagogues.
Keeping kosher = following Jewish dietary rules: meat and dairy can’t be eaten together and you can’t eat pork or shellfish. Fish and eggs are pareve (aka neutral) and can be eaten with meat or dairy (but again not both at the same time.) When eating meat it has to be kosher meat (e.g. kosher Jews are allowed to eat chicken, but not all chicken is kosher. I know it’s kinda confusing I’m sorry.) Kosher products in stores will have symbols on them to identify them as kosher. If someone is kosher they’ll probably have separate sets of utensils/plates/cookware/etc. for meat and dairy
Shabbat/Shabbos/Sabbath = holy day of the week, day of rest, lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Depending on observance Jews might have Shabbat dinner, attend Shabbat services, or observe the day of rest in its entirety (making them shomer Shabbat)
Someone who is shomer Shabbat will refrain from any of the prohibited activities. These can easily be looked up but include: working, writing, handling money, cooking, and using technology.
Bat/Bar/B’nai Mitvzah = tradition where a Jewish boy/girl becomes a man/woman. Celebrated at 13-years-old for boys, 12- or 13-years-old for girls. Girls have Bat Mitzvahs (bat means daughter in Hebrew), boys have Bar Mitzvahs (bar means son in Hebrew) and twins or two or more people having one together have a B’nai Mitzvah. They will study for this for months and then help lead services and, depending on observance level, read from the Torah. The ceremony is often attended by family and friends and followed with a celebration of sorts (in America usually this means a brunch and/or party.)
Goy/gentile = non-Jew. These words are not slurs, they are literally just words. Plural of goy is goyim and is a Yiddish word, plural of gentile is gentiles.
Jewish holidays follow the Hebrew calendar, meaning that according to the current solar/Gregorian calendar the dates of our holidays are different each year.
Jewish law recognizes matrilineal inheritance. This means that Jewish law states your mother has to be Jewish for you to be Jewish. This is because of reasons from biblical times that I can explain if you wanna come ask, but as you can imagine is a bit outdated. While Orthodox Jews might embrace this idea and only consider someone Jewish if their mom is Jewish, many Jews are more flexible on the idea (and yes, this does cause tension between Orthodox Jews and other Jews at times.)
Judaism =/= Christianity
Some people think Judaism is just Christianity without Jesus (some people don’t even realize we don’t believe in/celebrate Jesus so newsflash, we don’t) and that’s just wrong. Yes both religions share the Old Testament, so they also share some history and beliefs, but the entire ideologies of the religions are different. In brief, they are similar in some ways but are not the same.
What seems to me to be the biggest difference is that Christianity (from what I understand) has a heavy focus on sins, more specifically repenting for/gaining forgiveness for your sins. In Christianity you are born tainted by original sin. In Judaism we believe everyone is born pure and free from sin and everyone is made in God’s image. Judaism has some concept of sin, but doesn’t focus on them and instead focuses on performing Mitzvot (plural, singular form is mitzvah. Direct translation is “commandment” but basically means good deed or act of kindness. It also relates to the commandments, so following the commandments is also performing mitzvot.) Examples of mitzvot include anything from saying a prayer or lighting Shabbat candles to helping a stranger or donating to charity (called tzedakah). One of the main tenets of Judaism is tikkun olam, which directly translates to “repair the world” and means exactly what it says on the tin. Instead of focusing on being forgiven for doing bad Judaism focuses on doing good. The only day we focus on past wrongdoings is Yom Kippur, one of our most holy holidays, discussed below.
Rosh Hashanah – The Jewish New Year, occurs around September and lasts for two days, though Reform Jews often only celebrate the first day. Day of happiness and joy, celebrated by eating sweet things for a “sweet new year” (often apples dipped in honey) and circular challah to represent the end of one year and beginning of another. Also celebrated with services and blowing the shofar (rams horn.) Some spend the day in prayer and/or silent meditation. Possible greetings: chag sameach (happy holiday; can be said on almost any holiday), Shana Tovah, or happy new year (which is what Shana Tovah means, some people just say it in English.)
Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement. Occurs ten days after the start of Rosh Hashanah. One of if not the most solemn day for Jews, but also the most holy. The day is spent reflecting on yourself and any past wrongdoings and atoning. The day (sundown the night before to sundown the day of) is spent fasting, a physical way of atoning. We do this in hopes of being “written in the Book of Life” and starting the year with a clean slate. The shofar is blown at the end of the holiday. Most Jews will end the fast with a grand meal with family and friends. Most common greeting is “have an easy fast,” but happy new year is still appropriate.
Sukkot – Celebrates the harvest, occurs on the fifth day after Yom Kippur and lasts seven days. Celebrated by building a temporary hut outdoors called a sukkah and having meals inside it, as well as shaking palm fronds tied together (called a lulav) and holding a citrus called an etrog. Very fun and festive holiday. Possible greetings include chag sameach or Happy Sukkot.
Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah – Some Jews (mostly Reform Jews and Jews living in Israel) combine both holidays into one day while some celebrate them as two separate days. Either way they occur immediately after Sukkot. Shemini Atzeret is similar but separate from Sukkot and features a prayer for rain; Sukkot is not mentioned in prayers and the lulav isn’t shaken but you do eat in the sukkah. Simchat Torah celebrates finishing reading the Torah, which we will then begin again the next day. It’s a festive holiday with dancing and fun. Some Temples will roll the entire Torah out and the children will run under it. Appropriate greeting for both would be chag sameach.
Rosh Hashanah through Simchat Torah are referred to as the High Holidays.
Chanukah – We all know about Chanukah, celebrating the reclaiming of the Second Temple and the miracle of the oil lasting eight days. The most represented Jewish Holiday there is. Unfortunately it’s one of the least significant holidays for us. Occurs around November or December and lasts eight days and nights. Celebrated by lighting candles in the Menorah each night with a prayer and kids usually get gifts each night. Also celebrated with spinning tops called dreidels, fried foods like doughnuts (sufganiyot in Hebrew; usually the jelly filled ones) and potato pancakes called latkes. Greetings: happy Chanukah or chag sameach.
Tu B’Shevat – Birthday of the trees, basically Jewish Arbor Day. Minor but fun holiday, sometimes celebrated by planting trees. Occurs around January or February.
Purim – Celebrates how Queen Esther of Persia defeated Haman and saved her people, the Jews. Occurs in Spring. Festive holiday traditionally celebrated by dressing in costumes, eating sweets, and giving tzedakah (it’s also technically commanded you get drunk so woohoo!) Whenever Haman’s name is mentioned you make a lot of noise, booing and using noisemakers called groggers. Greetings: happy Purim, chag Purim, or chag sameach.
Passover/Pesach – Celebrates the Jews being freed from slavery in Egypt. Occurs in Spring and lasts eight days. The first two nights (some only celebrate the first night) are celebrated with seder, a ritual meal with certain foods, practices, prayers, and readings from a book called the Haggadah and often attended by family and friends. Most famous prayer/song of the holiday is the four questions, which ask why that night is different from all other nights and is traditionally sung by the youngest child at the seder. The entire holiday is spent not eating certain foods, mostly grain or flour (the food restrictions are complicated and differ based on denomination so look it up or ask a Jew.) We eat a lot of matzah during Pesach, which is like a cracker kinda. I personally hate it but some people actually like it. Greetings: happy Passover, chag pesach, or chag sameach.
Tisha B’Av – Anniversary of the destruction of the Temple. Occurs in Summer. Very sad, solemn day. Some celebrate by fasting from sunrise to sunset. Not the most widely celebrated holiday. Some also commemorate the Holocaust (also called the Shoah) on this day as it was the destruction of a figurative temple.
There are a bunch of denominations in Judaism, we’ll go into it briefly.
Reform/Reformed: This is the least religiously observant level. Often Reform Jews don’t keep kosher or observe Shabbat, their services on Shabbat will use instruments. Reform Jews probably attend services for the high holidays at the very least and probably had a Bat/Bar Mitzvah. Might say they consider themselves more culturally Jewish. Their Temple/Synagogue will be the most “liberal”—aka have more female/diverse Rabbis and a more diverse congregation. I’m Reform and my Temple’s lead Rabbi is a woman and we used to have a Rabbi who’s a queer single mother.
Conservative: More religiously observant and more generally traditional. Might keep kosher or observe Shabbat, but not necessarily. Services likely won’t use instruments (not supposed to play instruments on Shabbat). Most likely had a Bat/Bar Mitzvah, but girls might not read from the Torah, though this depends on the congregation. They do allow female Rabbis, but in my experience it’s less common.
Modern Orthodox: Very religiously observant but also embrace modern society. Will keep kosher and observe Shabbat. Men will wear kippot (singular=kippah) and tzitzit under their shirts. Women will cover their hair (if they’re married), most likely with a wig, and wear modest clothing (only wear skirts that are at least past their knees and long sleeves). Emphasis on continued study of Torah/Talmud. Parents will likely have jobs. Might have larger families (aka more children) but might not. Services will be segregated by gender, girls won’t read from the Torah publicly, and female Rabbis are very rare. Children will most likely attend a religious school. Will attend shul services every Shabbat and for holidays.
note: there are some people who fall somewhere between modern Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox, or between any two denominations really. as you can imagine people don’t all practice the exact same way.
Ultra-Orthodox: Very religiously observant and not necessarily modern. Will keep kosher and observe Shabbat. Men will wear kippot or other head coverings and tzitzit under their shirts, and are also often seen wearing suits. Women will cover their hair (if they’re married) with a wig or scarf and wear modest clothing (only wear skirts that are at least past their knees and long sleeves). Emphasis on continued study of Torah/Talmud. Men might have jobs but might instead focus on Jewish studies, while women most often focus on housework and child-rearing. Don’t believe in contraception (but this is kinda nuanced and depends). Will often have very large families because having children is a commandment and helps continue the Jewish people. Might be shomer negiah which means not touching members of the opposite sex aside from their spouse and some close family members. Services will be segregated by gender, girls won’t read from the Torah publicly, and there won’t be female Rabbis. Children will attend a religious school. Will attend shul services every Shabbat and for holidays.
Ethnic denominations (the different denominations do have some differences in practices and such but tbh I don’t know much about that so this is just the basics):
Ashkenazi: Jews that originate from Central/Eastern Europe. Yiddish, a combination of Hebrew and German, originated from and was spoken by Ashkenazim and while it’s a dying language it’s spoken among many Orthodox Jews and many Jews of all levels know/speak some Yiddish words and phrases. Majority of Jews worldwide are Ashkenazi.
Sephardi/Sephardic: Jews that originate from the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa, and southeastern Europe. Ladino, a combination of Old Spanish and Hebrew, originated from and was spoken by Sephardim. It is also a dying language but is still spoken by some Sephardim. After Ashkenazi most of the world’s Jews are Sephardic.
Mizrahi: Jews that originate from the Middle East and North Africa.
Ethiopian Jews: Community of Jews that lived in Ethiopia for over 1,000 years, though most have immigrated to Israel by now.
There are so many Jewish stereotypes and shit and I ask you to please be mindful of them. Stereotypes do exist for a reason, so some people will fit stereotypes. This means your character might fit one or two; don’t make them fit all of them. Please. Stereotypes to keep in mind (and steer away from) include:
All Jews are rich.
All Jews are greedy.
All Jews are cheap/frugal.
All Jews are [insert job here]. We’ll go into this more below.
All Jews hate Christians/Muslims/etc.
All Jews are white.
First of all Ethiopian and Mizrahi Jews exist, many Sephardi are Hispanic, and today with intermarriage and everything this just isn’t true.
All Jews have the same physical features: large and/or hooked nose, beady eyes, droopy eyelids, red hair (this is an old stereotype I didn’t really know existed), curly hair.
Many Jews do have somewhat large noses and curly hair. I’m not saying you can’t give these features to your characters, but I am saying to be careful and don’t go overboard. And don’t give all of your Jewish characters these features. As a side note, it is common at least among American Jews that girls get nose jobs. Not all, but some.
Jews are secretly world elite/control the world/are lizard people/new world order/ any of this stuff.
STAY AWAY FROM. DO NOT DO THIS OR ANYTHING LIKE THIS. If you have a character that’s part lizard, do not make them Jewish. If you have a character that’s part of a secret group that controls the entire world, do not make them Jewish.
Jews have horns. If you have characters with horns please don’t make them Jewish.
Jews killed Jesus.
The blood libel. Ew. No.
The blood libel is an antisemitic accusation/idea/concept that back in the day Jews would murder Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals and sometimes even for consumption (did I mention gross?) Not only did this just not happen, but it’s actually against Jewish law to murder, sacrifice, or consume blood. Yes these accusations really happened and it became a main reason for persecution of Jews. And some people still believe this shit.
Jews caused The Plague.
The reason this conspiracy exists is because many Jews didn’t get The Plague and the goyim thought that meant it was because the Jews caused it/cursed them. The real reason Jews didn’t get it is because ritual hand-washing and good hygiene kept them from getting it. Sorry that we bathe.
Jewish mother stereotype.
Ok, listen. I know stereotypes are mostly a bad thing but I have to admit the Jewish mother stereotype is not far off. Jewish moms do tend to be chatty and a little nagging, are often very involved in their children’s lives, and they are often trying to feed everyone (although they don’t all cook, my mom hates cooking.) They also tend to be big worriers, mostly worrying about their family/loved ones. They also tend to know everyone somehow. A twenty minute trip to the grocery store can turn into an hour or two long trip because she’ll chat with all the people she runs into.
Jewish-American Princess (JAP) ((I know calling Japanese people Japs is offensive. Jews will call girls JAPs, but with a completely different meaning. If that’s still offensive I am sorry, but just know it happens.))
This is the stereotype that portrays Jewish girls/women as spoiled brats basically. They will be pampered and materialistic. Do these girls exist? Definitely. I still recommend steering away from this stereotype.
Listen. Listen. There are some names that Jews just won’t have. I won’t speak in definites because there are always exceptions but you’ll rarely find a Jew named Trinity or Grace or Faith or any form of Chris/Christopher/Christina etc. Biblical names from the Old Testament? Absolutely Jews will have those names they’re actually very common.
I’m in a Jewish Sorority. My pledge class of ~70 girls had five Rebeccas and four Sarahs. Surprisingly only one Rachel though.
When it comes to last names I have two thoughts that might seem contradictory but hear me out: a) give your Jewish OC’s Jewish surnames, b) don’t give your Jewish OC’s the most Jewish surname to ever exist.
By this I mean I would much rather see a character named Sarah Cohen or Aaron Levine than Rachel Smith. Just that little bit of recognition makes a happy exclamation point appear over my head, plus it can be a good way to hint to readers that your OC is Jewish.
On the other hand, please don’t use the most stereotypical Jewish names you’ve ever heard. If you have five Jewish OCs and one of them is Isaac Goldstein then fine. If Isaac Goldstein is your only Jewish OC I might get a little peeved. There are tons of common Jewish surnames that are recognizable and easy to look up, so don’t revert to the first three that come to mind. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it yucky, for lack of a better word.
We all know there are certain jobs that are stereotypical for Jews to have. We’re talking lawyer, dentist, doctor, banker type stuff. To an extent these stereotypes exist for a reason, many Jews go into those careers. Do not make these the only careers your Jewish OCs have. Stereotypes might have reasoning behind them but it doesn’t mean they aren’t harmful. If you have multiple Jewish OCs some of them can have these careers, but not all of them. I do know a lot of Jewish lawyers, dentists, and doctors. I also know accountants, people involved in businesses (“mom, what does Brad do?” “he’s a businessman” sometimes there just aren’t more specific words), people involved in real estate. I don’t actually know any bankers personally, and with money and stuff being one of the most common and harmful Jewish stereotypes I would suggest steering away from that.
These are common fields for Jews, but Jews can have literally any job. Please feel free to get creative. And if you have more than one Jewish OC you can think about making one of them a Rabbi, but DON’T do this if they’re the only Jewish OC. Please.
So I mentioned Yiddish earlier. Like I already said, it’s not a very widely used language anymore but there are some words and phrases that are still used by a lot of Jews (in America at least.) Here’s a list that is absolutely not comprehensive:
Oy vey = oh no
Shvitzing = sweating (but not just a little bit. Shvitzing is like SWEATING)
Kvetch/kvetching = whine/whining or complain/complaining
Mazel tov = congratulations; this is the same in Yiddish and Hebrew
Chutzpah = nerve or gall (e.g. “He’s got a lot of chutzpah for breaking up over text like that”)
Kismet = fate; I just learned this is Yiddish
Bubbe and Zayde = grandma and grandpa
Schelp/schlepping = drag/dragging, can also mean carry or move (e.g. “I had to schlep the bag all around town” doesn’t mean they literally dragged it)
Schmutz = dirt or something dirty (e.g. “you have schmutz on your face”)
Schmatta = literally means rag but can be used to refer to ratty blankets or clothes
Plotz = collapse (usually used in the sense of “I’m so tired I might plotz” or “she’s gonna be so excited she’s gonna plotz”)
Schmuck/shmendrick = both mean more or less the same, a jerk or obnoxious person
Shtick = gimmick, routine, or act (can be used like (“I don’t like that comedian’s shtick” or “he always makes himself the center of attention it’s his shtick”)
Spiel = long speech, story, or rant
There’s so many more so look them up and think about using them, but don’t overdo it. A Jewish person isn’t gonna use a Yiddish word in every sentence (or even every day or every few days.)
In my community at least it’s very common that by the time your college-aged that you’ll have been to Israel at least once.
Israel is a controversial topic within the Jewish community and in the world. It’s sensitive and complex. I really, really suggest not getting into it. Just don’t bring it up because no matter what you say someone will be unhappy. Just don’t do it.
Ashkenazi Jews have some sucky genes (I’m Ashkenazi so I can say this, you cannot.) These sucky genes cause certain disorders to be more prevalent for us. Children only get the disorder if both parents are carriers of the disorder, so Jews usually get genetic testing done before having children. If both parents are carriers the risk of the child getting the disorder is high, so parents might reconsider or have some indecisiveness/fear. Some of these are:
Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Ashkenazi Jews also have a high prevalence of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women and increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer in men.
Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Lactose Intolerance are also very prevalent
In a dorm of like 40 Jews, six of them had Crohn’s.
Ways to Show Your OC is Jewish
Wears Jewish jewelry, e.g. Star of David (also called Jewish Star and Magen David), Chai symbol (means life), jewelry with Sh’ma prayer, or hamsa (but beware this symbol is used outside of Judaism).
Mentions their temple, their Rabbi, having a Bat/Bar Mitzvah, going to Hebrew School, Shabbat, or a holiday coming up.
Have someone ask them a question about Judaism.
Have someone notice they have a mezuzah on their door.
Most Jews will have a mezuzah on the doorframe of the front door of their house/apartment, but they could even have one for their dorm room or whatever. It’s traditional to kiss your hand then touch the mezuzah when walking through the door, but most Jews don’t do this every time, at least not most Reform or Conservative Jews.
Have them call out antisemitism if you’re feeling spicy
The end! I hope this helped and if you have any questions my ask box is always open!
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how to properly structure a query letter!*
[An optional brief introduction, no longer than 2 - 3 sentences, perhaps where you elaborate on the #ownvoices of your manuscript, or pointing out certain things in your manuscript that the agent asks for. I reiterate that this paragraph is optional. Unless you have a very specific reason to be querying this agent—for instance, if they tweeted an MSWL for a heist novel and you’re querying a heist novel—there is no relevance, so don’t include this paragraph.]
[The first paragraph of your summary introduces the world, the main character, and their Normal. For instance, Cynthia lives in the times of a pandemic and works to continue living in their new normal. Every day, Cynthia chooses to get up and keep living and making the most of their situation while trying to find something to do to be useful.]
[The second paragraph of your summary introduces the plot. To continue with the above idea, Cynthia has been tasked with trying to find a cure to coronavirus, but all they have to work with in their home is duct tape, tangerines, Tylenol, and a never-give-up attitude.]
[The third paragraph introduces stakes, aka what will happen if Cynthia doesn’t discover a cure with the resources they have at home. Luckily for them, however, a woman named Jane they had a one night stand with needs a place to crash after she was evicted. Cynthia agrees to let her stay as their roommate, especially because Jane brings with her the missing ingredient to the cure for coronavirus, a magic bean she stole from a giant--but there’s only one magic bean. If Cynthia and Jane can’t find a way to make more beans, they might be sent to the realm of giants forever.]
[The closing paragraph goes like this: Complete at 89,000 words, THE MAGIC BEAN is an Adult contemporary fantasy with potential for a companion novel. I believe it will appeal to fans of Erin Morgenstern and Naomi Novik. Briefly explain who you are and share what you’re comfortable with about yourself—I say I’m 26, headed to grad school for archiving, and that the book is #ownvoices for genderqueer representation. Also mention if you have any connection to the publishing industry. I mention who I was previously represented by, why we amicably parted ways, and that I’ve mentored in many writing contests.]
[Final closure: Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you!]
[My phone number and, though optional, my twitter handle]
*i’ve been in the publishing industry for nine years now, have mentored many authors who went on to be published by the Big 5, and worked in writing contests to help writers, not only with their manuscript, but with their pitch and query letter and comps etc. i know what i’m about 😉
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how to create a high fantasy politics reference doc (with a template and guide!)
political fantasy is an extremely fun genre to write in, that is, until you have to actually write the politics. in this semi-requested guide, i'm going to explain to you how i virgo-planned my way to a horribly detailed—though also horribly helpful—political reference doc for my one and only wip, a treatise of tyrants and thieves.
if you too would like to use a similar format to what i did (though consequently you will have to change it to fit your own worldbuilding), i have a template on dropbox paper right here.
as a sidenote, i do recommend already having built up a decent amount of your world before jumping into this; this document is meant to help flesh out pre-existing content in such a way that is really hard to do with a wip that's just starting out.
Generally speaking, when I first began writing this doc, I was mostly doing so in relation to the government of the country wherein my WIP takes place and its relationship with other countries (or nations!), with its own people, and within itself. This then lead to my three, aptly-named subcategories; External, Internal, and Personal Relations (I'm very creative as you can see.)
These three subcategories became my main headers, and all of my organization took place within a Dropbox Paper doc—as I am partial to the cleaner interface and very easy creation of a table of contents—but using Word or Google Docs works just as well. With that, and a lot of pain and suffering in the form of preexisting worldbuilding, I started to flesh all the info out.
You should note that the country AToTaT takes place in a country called Vsyhna (vuh-sen-uh) and its government is referred to as the Dual Courts. This is also a forewarning, for the fact that I will probably be talking about my own worldbuilding quite a bit, if not only for purposes of giving proper examples!
So without any more notes from me, let's properly jump into this thing.
The external relations between the Dual Courts and all the other governments within Ashvayr (the continent that Vsyhna is a part of), of which there are eleven, can be described in one of the following ways:
✅ = Allies
⚠️ = Allied by treaty, with tensions
❎ = Not allied, but no real tensions
✴️ = Not allied, but with tensions
⛔️ = Enemies
All of these relations should be taken with a grain of salt, and also adapted to fit your worldbuilding, of course, but as a general consensus, most governments will have one of those relationships with another. The emojis are used so that it's easily identifiable (I'm also insane, let's not forget), but emojis don't replace discussion.
Within each section, I discussed the relationship between these governments but also gave a quick list of bullet points that explained important moments in recent history that have created those tensions—or lack thereof—the current political state in each country, certain cultural tidbits, and cultural differences between Vsyhnians and others.
Generally, this isn't the stuff you want to get lazy with, and while it is fine to say something like "Oh they live across the world my mc's won't know this." It's better to have the ability to even subtly suggest other people, cultures, or ideologies. It deepens your world, and more than this, can be super interesting to readers. You should also note that this information should affect your characters in some way, otherwise the politics are going to be very boring (as they don't relate to anyone.)
This alternated between something as complex as gender politics, to things as simple as cuisine or trade goods. Indeed, you don't have to cover every base with these descriptions, arguably, this is the part you should spend the least amount of time on (unless you're braver than a U.S. marine and do, in fact, wish to take on international relations), but you should cover every important base.
For a slightly more simple example, let's look at the Empire of Sansryn. I wrote: "The Empire of Sansryn ⚠️ is an archipelago that is composed of two main ethnic groups; the Sansrynians, who occupy the northern half of the islands, and the Tarimese, who occupy the southern half of the islands." Then continued to briefly describe the relationship between Sansryn and Tarim.
The next two paragraphs were designated to a) their relationship with Vsyhna (which as you can see with the ⚠️ emoji is not great) and b) their relationship with other countries around them, not forgetting why it's so poor in the first place, which, spoiler, has to do with a number of social issues.
Also in the case of Sansryn, one of my side characters is half Sansrynian, which is something I noted mostly for the purposes of clarifying this character's relationship with this part of their identity and culture.
Realism is, quite frankly, optional in fantasy (or rather, you define what "real" actually means) but I do tend to strive for realism within AToTaT's politics, if not only because it's fun. When delving into (rightfully!) complex issues—like ethnic conflict for example—it's necessary to do your homework (and hire sensitivity readers afterward) if it's not a topic you are familiar with or related to. However, that exact process is not something I will be discussing in this post and I encourage you to do your own research.
You also want to take into consideration how these countries are related to each other. For me personally, I almost exclusively did this for the two current conflicts (i.e. actively disputed treaties, current armed conflicts) within the world, but I did briefly touch on how those relationships came to be, as you can see above.
Internal relations is where things start to get more complex and also more specific to the world my WIP takes place in. For this section, you need to have already realized a great deal in regards to major political institutions (if you have them!) and most importantly, cultural attitudes.
I split my internal relations section into seven sub-sections, which included: Social Cleavages, Justice System, Garrison, Navy, Cults vs. Church, Crime, and Trade.
For a Wikipedia definition, a social cleavage is "a historically determined social or cultural line which divides citizens within a society into groups with differing political interests, resulting in political conflict among these groups." AKA sexy, sexy plot tension.
The social cleavages of Vsyhna mostly revolve around social class (in-world called "rank"), an urban/rural divide, and nationality, which I note as being "considerably not a social cleavage." It appears I should have listened to my Wikipedia-defined advice. That said, rank was described at length for its importance to the religion, general structure within government, linguistic flavor (dialects!), and laws. It's one of my largest social themes and connects to almost everything within the book, including the magic system.
Speaking of magic, as I didn't mention it within my seven sub-categories above, I should note that however magic works in your society should also be included. In my case, it's heavily intertwined with religion and social class (access to the information that allows people to use magic, I mean) and so I didn't feel the need to clarify its role with an entirely new section, but how you do this is entirely up to you. It's also up to you to include a magic system, as in reality, you don't necessarily need one. I also have a completely separate Dropbox doc for most of these things anyway (re:knowing stuff before you jump into this.)
The justice system is something I find is often not immediately thought about when it comes to fantasy, but from a very general point of view, this also encompasses subjects such as law codes, the punishment for breaking those codes, and what trials look like, if you have them. This can tell us much about your culture, what they value, and more importantly, how much they value it.
For example, continuing with my themes of classism, sumptuary laws are a large part of Vsyhnian society, i.e. laws that forbid the usage of certain goods to lower classes. Given that it's illegal for someone of lowborn status to have, let's say silk, it creates a) a prime criminal market (trading "illegal" goods), b) a need to crack down on this market, and c) further severs the relationship between upper and lower classes, given that the fairness of the justice system is then put under scrutiny. Indeed, the fact that it's the Church that controls the justice system, you have a similar tension in the department of faith, and I haven't even begun to talk about how the treatment during trials differs.
I often find military to be the greatest emphasis within quite a lot of political fantasy, that being, the mobility of large land armies or prowess at sea. For me personally, I find this to be rather boring (both on accounts of reading and writing) so I did come at this with a lens of interest in the personal relationships of these people and actual organization within the military. Mostly, I used what I knew from external relationships and current conflicts to create something that could be used later on if I needed it, as it's not heavily featured (at least not in the first book!) Treaties, blockades, relationships between commanding officers, and relationships with piracy.
On notes of realism, I went with the very classic These Island People Have A Great Navy, as, historically, they tend to.
We should all know by now how important religion, or lack thereof, is in epic fantasy, and while I could go on about this for several hours, this is a political relations doc, so I focussed on the tension between sects of the main religion. How different leaders within the religion interacted with other members of government is a topic for personal relations, however, if not only because they're heavily featured, and there are several (about nine actual descriptions.)
This culminated by way of cults vs. the Church, differing ideologies within fundamental concepts of the religion, and generally how they're seen by Vsyhnian society (and—you guessed it—social class.) As an example, I wrote, "All of these organizations consider the Holy Book Rovnokh to be canon and true within their faiths, though it is the Codex Drkha that is often disputed in validity. This is the result of their own written dogma, which may convey entirely different personalities and oblation tales, or emphasis on a very specific aspect of the mortal godchild then how they are presented in the Codex."
It is important to consider, before even delving into differences, what the fundamentals of each sect or division within your religion are speaking on. Think of the historical context that may have brought about such a concept, or even fuzzy lines within canon texts. Here's another example, "The seventh mortal godchild is not mentioned within the Codex and therefore not considered a valid mortal godchild, though Vrah’s appearance in the Holy Book and the Children of the Bone’s own text—which are older than the Codex—say otherwise. 'Vrah' is more used as a term to describe magic and not at all a person, when it is mentioned in the Codex."
Crime and trade, as you can imagine in a society plagued by rules that dictate trade—and in many cases make the trade of certain items a crime—is quite important. As I hinted earlier in the justice system section, the "illegal" trade of certain goods, which goes against sumptuary laws. That said, crime happens for a number of different reasons, and I took the time here to think about partner organizations, illegal magic producers, and gangs.
Crime can actually be an excellent tool of worldbuilding, if not only for the fact that it is so specific to the country and history it resides in. Why does something need to be stolen? Fabricated? Spied on? And who is getting the most out of it?
Trade was something I rather lazily did with the above Vsyhnian roadmap—I don't plan on discussing economics at all, nor following merchants as they move goods though the country.
I want to note once more that all of this is extremely relative information; what you need to write about to create political tension is entirely up to you and your story. As a general bit of advice, however, it is helpful to ensure that everything can come back around to your characters—if not now, then at some point within the series or story as a whole. Politics can become boring very easily, especially when not personal.
For our final and most interesting section, I did two, somewhat important things before actually writing anything out; that being creating two charts. The first is a political alignment chart, the second is a chart that defines the different positions of government. While again, this is totally relative, this is what I came up with:
Take the time to think about and research other forms of government, what each "branch" might do, and how they do it. More importantly though, think about how the culture and religion would, can, or do influence the government, and how the government has responded to such action. Look to history especially!
The charts allowed me to very easily place my main characters, their families, and all the previous groups of people (gangs, cults, social classes) into categories that can then, more or less, directly define their relationships with one another. This made the process that I will now describe to you a little less tedious.
I divided this category into three sections: Nobleborn Houses (that being houses of great import and high rank), the Prelacy (leaders of the Church), and Others of Note.
There are ten nobleborn houses, however, I only did mass amounts of details for five of the most important. I should also note that two of my four main characters are a part of two of these houses, and it's for that reason that I felt I needed to be as in-depth as possible. For Houses, the organization went something like this:
A general description of the house, its history, and how it rose to power, as well as what they generally control within the government or country and how long they've had this position.
Try to be as diverse as possible within these descriptions—cover a lot of different bases and don't be afraid to do it! A family rising to power as a result of the money they, for example, gained from growing roses says a lot about the culture and commerce of a particular country.
What the people think of this family, given all social standings and occupations. Naturally, when I say all, I don't mean think about what every carpenter thinks of the royal family, I just made sure it was a general consensus!
Opinion of the Other Five Houses:
This, I tended to keep as short as possible, but like the external relations above, I wanted to know what and how the relationship was what it was. For several, I already had an idea, but for...so many more I did not (hear the pain in my voice? there's pain in my voice.)
Opinion of the Remaining Houses:
Shorter than even short as possible, but the same idea as before.
Probably one of the more important sections; I listed out all the members of the main part of the family, that is, the immediate family of the person involved in government (or main character.) This not only defines your side characters—of which there are bound to be many—but also clarifies the conflicting motives of the people in charge. And they should conflict, hopefully with the motives of your main characters. Extended family was discussed when important, such as prominent aunts, uncles, or grandparents, but for sake of simplicity, lengthy descriptions were kept for parents and children.
I also included charts after this about minor houses sworn to these noble houses, but to be completely honest, I didn't fill out most. That said, I did repeat this process for all five houses, and the good news, is that after you talk about the relationship with one of the other five, you're done completely, so, yay one less bullet point each time. Also, don't feel pressured to have a name for everyone or everything! In fact, I mostly skip over names of people unless I really have to know them in text, far more characters are simply [BROTHER] or [PARENT], though this could be a laziness thing. Or a conlang one.
A worldbuilding note: I also included house colors, sigils, and heads in this instance, as well as their connection to certain magical oaths.
For the remaining five nobleborn houses, I only listed house heads, sigils, and colors, if not only because I described their relationship with everyone else, earlier. That said, I also included house heir and extra notes, if I needed them.
The Prelacy was organized slightly differently, as important members of the Church, they don't necessarily have family members interacting with them. Instead, I focussed on backstories, their relationships with the Arkan (the monarch, sort of), and once more, motive (and personalities, given that I don't give side characters a full oc profile.)
As shown in the chart above, there is one High Vokhsv and six Vokhvs that work under them; the former had a more in-depth section of text, however, the six got just about as much detail as the lesser five noble houses.
My last and final section was short and sweet (thank God) and covered two topics very briefly, that are so world-specific I won't even bother explaining them. That said! That's what this section is for; anything else that you might have missed.
I won't lie, the personal relations section was probably the most time-consuming part of this entire doc, but in the end, it did pay off. The entire thing took about from the 22nd of February to the 18th of April, and came out to around 30k. Do I suggest you also write this much? Not unless you feel like you need it. I don't really plan out plot, so for me, this was my plan, hence the length and detail.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this far too long breakdown of my political reference doc of my WIP, A Treatise of Tyrants and Thieves and good luck with your own process, writing, and research <3
Some links I found helpful:
The template link, once more.
Brandon Sanderson's 2020 creative writing lectures (YouTube)
Designing a fantasy legal system (Worldbuilding Stack Exchange)
Unpacking Folk Tales/Motif Index (Uni. of Alberta)
Real Inequality in Europe since 1500 (Journal, PDF)
Public Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe (Journal)
The Spy Chiefs or Renaissance Venice: Intelligence Leadership in the Early Modern World (Oxford Brookes Uni., PDF)
Branches of the U.S. military (SOU)
those who were interested.
@chovansjtsjina @zielenheil @lord-fallen @ninazeniks @viesceral @introverteddumbass @wisteria-eventide & anyone else, feel free to reply, send an ask, or dm me about questions!
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Writing Theory: Chekov's Gun
"If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."— Anton Chekhov. This simply means, if you include a detail in a story it should have some meaning to the plot or the overall story.
Why Chekov's Gun is Important
Over the years, Chekov's Gun has become an important rule where foreshadowing is involved and often gives your readers some idea of what is to come without giving it away. It can be a fun element for writers to pepper in as well as set up a plot point or an oncoming event. Chekov's Gun keeps writers on track with their details and can be used to put your readers into an unconscious state of knowledge about the following story.
How Can Writers effectively write Chekov's Gun
The main thing about Chekov's Gun, is utilising your details within the story and showcasing them in a way that is notice-drawing but not so much as to be provacative with it. In simple terms, you want people to notice it but you don't want to wave it in their faces.
The details that you add (and I'm not talking about details as in the colour of the walls, I mean details such as an item that is focused on) should impact the story in some way. These details are often elaborated on with the narrative and are given a little bit of exposition. For example, consider:
In a Prisoner of Azkaban, Cornelius Fudge recounts a meeting with Sirius Black in the prison. He makes a point of noting that Sirius had asked for his newspaper, chalking it down to Sirius's inhumanity. However, that paper is the catalyst of the story in this book. Sirius sees a picture of the Weasley's on holiday in the paper, spotting Peter Pettigrew, a traitor and agent of Voldemort. The paper acts as Sirius's inciting event to act.
In Greek Myth, Perseus and his mother Danae were exiled from her father's kingdom after a phophecy stated that the King would be killed by his grandson. Years later after Perseus went on his quest, married a Princess and won himself a new kingdom, he attended a sports event where all the Kings of Greece attended. Perseus threw a discus accidentally killing an old man in the crowd. The old man? His grandfather.
Or perhaps the most famous literal example, in the film Shaun of the Dead, Ed points to a shotgun above the bar at the Winchester. He goes on a big long yarn about how the gun is real. During the action packed climax of the film, Shaun tells him that the gun couldn't possibly be real because... Then the gun goes off and is used to save Liz and Shaun while the others are consumed by zombies.
The Do's and Don'ts of Chekov's Gun
Do consider Chekov's Gun to be anything, not just an item or a thing. It can be the name of a person (Marwyn the Mage) or even a certain skill a character has (Mary Ravenwood can drink grown men under the table, a skill she uses against the Nazi).
When lampshading the item/person/detail, do not embellish it too much. Afford the detail enough attention so the reader can remember it but not so much that they notice it.
Do remember that Chekov's Gun must at some point be fired. The person/thing/detail must have some impact. (the locket Harry attempts to throw out at Grimmauld Place ends up being a Horcrux)
Don't think the reader won't remember the gun. Most readers with experience will clock a Chekov's gun from a mile off.
Do make sure that the gun is in the minds of the reader. Whether you have characters mention it flippantly or you show it over the course of the narrative (the famous lemons of "Braavos'' in ASOIAF).
The gun does not have to fire immediately but it does have to fire at some point.
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Stumbling upon your blog must be my lucky lucky day 😊 I've looked through your FAQ and didnt see anything addressing a pantser plotting a story so... Hopefully this ask is ok! If not, I'm sorry to bother. I'm a pantser, not a plotter but I have an idea for a long fic. How should I go about it without losing interest..? Maybe interest isn't quite the right word. Cause one time I had an idea, I plotted it with beats but then lost interest / got too intimidated by it... Thank you in advance!
Plotting for Pantsers and Pantsing for Plotters
For those of you who don't already know, when it comes to beginning a new project, the writing world consists of two very different groups of people: plotters and pansters.
Plotters meticulously outline their stories from start to finish, and although they benefit from cohesive, streamlined work, they often hit a wall of writer's block and lose creativity from over-plotting.
Pansters just go with the flow, and despite the freedom that allows them to write whatever they want and boosts writing motivation, their stories often suffer from lack of cohesion and can take a while to get to the point.
In order to make a long project, such as a fanfic or a novel, as successful as it can be, you need to be a mix of both.
You need to plot in order to make sure you don't over/underwrite and can optimize your narrative, while also leaving room for flexibility that allows you to make your own creative decisions and prevent writer's block.
Here's how to do it. It's all in the outline.
Unfortunately for pantsers, all long works should have an outline so you know what points you have to hit along the way.
Unfortunately for plotters, it's restricting and unnecessary to have every single detail planned to a T.
A simple "here's whats going to happen in this chapter" should be enough. It doesn't have to be long. Hell, it can just be one bullet point! But as long as you have a general idea of what needs to happen, you can make the rest!
This leaves enough structure for plotters but enough wiggle room for pantsers!
Introduce Character A
Talk with Character B
Foreshadow Character B's betrayal
See? This is a very, very loose idea of what's going to happen in this chapter.
In fact, this is just a list of all the things that HAVE TO happen to make the story go forward; you can still add your own things to it to make it your own!
Tell yourself what is going to happen. Not how it's going to happen.
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"Don't put numbers into your stories." Jeezus.
Guide: Keeping Numbers & Number-Related Details Straight in Your Story
I was midway through my answer when I realized this would be a good opportunity for a quick guide.
About That Post...
Honestly, I think the OP was probably a bit of a tongue-in-cheek, hyperbolic rant from a writer who had a frustrating review or critique. The problem is, a lot of people seem to be taking it as genuine/good advice, and that really concerns me.
Obviously, it's fine to be vague about dates, ages, distances, or anything else if that's what you want to do. But don't leave numbers out because you're not willing to do the work to keep your story's details straight. Doing the work to figure that stuff out and keep it straight is part of your job as a serious writer.
Hey, Buddy! Let's Do Some Research!
Look, I get it... when you're excited about a story idea, you just want to go wild and start writing. But if your story uses real world people, events, locations, items, or other elements--or heavily relies on them as inspiration--you need to sit down and do some research.
This doesn't mean you have to choose exact dates for your story if you don't want to. But if your story is loosely set in the 1880s (or inspired by an 1880s setting,) you'd better have a good idea of what did and did not exist in the 1880s so you can be sure you're not using a 1914 fashion trend or 1700s slang.
And, doing research doesn't mean you have to research every single element of your story before you start writing. You can stop and research as you go. In the middle of my writing session tonight, I spent 15 minutes researching what kind of pine tree would grow near the coast in my WIP's inspiration setting. And even though that location will never be named in my story, I care about my writing enough to take the time to make sure my details are accurate.
WQA’s Guide to Internet Research
Researching an Historical Topic
Writing About Difficult to Research Topics
Timelines: A Writer's Best Friend
Whether or not you choose to be specific about dates in your story, I strongly advocate the use of a story timeline, even if you're not usually a "planner." Having a detailed story timeline (that includes important back story events) helps ensure that you don't mix up dates, lose track of how much time has passed between events, or create overlapping events.
There are loads of different ways you can create a timeline, and no way is better than any other. You can jot important dates and events down on post-its, use an app, draw out a timeline on a piece of paper, create something in Word... whatever you want to do is great! Here are some different timeline styles I've used. Some of these are timelines from actual WIPs.
Standard Line Timeline
Calendar Timeline (You can print these out at Time and Date...)
Basic Scene List & Timeline
Complex Scene List & Timeline (This one is based on Save the Cat!)
And, if you're like me and you have trouble keeping character ages straight throughout important back story events, I give you...
The Color-Coded Character Age Chart
And, honestly, that's how you keep numbers and number-related details straight in your story. Research and timelines. It's just that simple!
So, don't be afraid to include numbers or number-related details in your story if you want them there. :)
Have a writing question? My inbox is always open!
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Character Development : A Collection of Resources
Patreon || Ko-Fi || Masterlist || Work In Progress
Resources For Creating Characters
Resources For Describing Characters
Resources For Writing The Mafia
Resources For Writing Royalty
Commentary on Social Issues In Writing
Guide to Character Development
How To Fit Character Development Into Your Story
Tips on Character Consistency
Designing A Character From Scratch
Making characters for your world
Characters First, Story Second Method
Understanding Your Character
Tips on Character Motivations
31 Days of Character Development : May 2018 Writing Challenge
How To Analyze A Character
Alternative Method of Character Creation
Connecting To Your Own Characters
Interview As Your Characters
Flipping Character Traits On Their Head
Character Driven vs. Plot Driven Stories
Tips On Writing About Mental Illness
Giving Your Protagonists Negative Traits
Giving Characters Distinct Voices in Dialogue
Giving Characters Flaws
Making Characters More Unique
Keeping Characters Realistic
Writing Good Villains
Guide to Writing The Hero
Positive Character Development Without Romanticizing Toxic Behavior
Tips on Writing Cold & Distant Characters
Balancing Multiple Main Characters
Creating Diverse Otherworld Characters
Foreshadowing The Villain
Masterlist | WIP Blog
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Shoutout to my $15+ patron, Douglas S.!
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DIALOGUE IDEAS TO GET RID OF THAT WRITING BLOCK (masterpost)
101 Ways to Break your Character's (and Reader's) heart by @emswritingprompts
Injured & Hurt/Comfort Prompts + Dialogues by @delilahfairchild
A Bunch of Different Dialogue Prompts #16 by @skriveting
Angst Dialogue Prompts(Mostly break up and relationship) by @hollandsmushroom
Parents x Child prompts by @promptandstuff
Heartbroken Dialogue Prompts by @palettes-and-prompts
Angst by @wrting-prompts
Prompts List (150) by @sapphicwhxre
Dialogue That Gets Scarier When Trapped In A Hug by @thatostrichwriter
Question Ideas #11 by @love-me-a-good-prompt
10 Enemies to Lovers Prompts by @person-1n-progress
500 Followers Mega Prompt List by @prompts-for-every-need
Amelia's Prompt List by @maybanksslut
Olivia Rodrigo Sentence Starter (i found this one so creative) by @hoesresources
Hero x Villain Prompts: Mega *Flirty* Dialogue Edition by @creweemmaeec11
Enemies to Lovers Prompt List by @tommymcartney
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The Structure of Story is now available! Check it out on Amazon, via the link in our bio, or at https://kiingo.co/book
“That is why fiction existed, as a way to look at the world without being broken by it.” ― Olen Steinhauer, The Middleman
The first time I sat down to write a novel I had the idea that my post-apocalyptic book—about surviving after a nuclear holocaust—needed to be more realistic. Isn’t that ironic? My Sci-Fi Fantasy needed to be more realistic.
So, I showed every time a character walked in and out of a room. I even had a scene with the MC pooping in the woods! Oy! I tried to make every conversation believable. I tried to make their arcs more intricate because people are complicated and we don’t make real changes in a week and WHY ISN’T THAT EVER REALISTIC IN A BOOK! You hear me? Of course, you do. I just screamed at you in all caps. Sorry about that. I’ll turn down my volume.
Do you know why this was a mistake—this need to be realistic? It wasn’t because I did research. Research is invaluable. Things need to make sense. You can’t have a gun in a story that doesn’t even exist in real life (unless you make it very clear this gun only exists in the fantasy world) because some guy in Cleveland is going to get angry because he knows all about guns and he’s going to write the worst review you have ever read. OK Gary, we get it. You really like guns. Research is important.
No, it was a mistake because I forgot why people read fiction in the first place.
People know you can’t drastically change your personality in 200 pages. They know some hunky prince isn’t going to ride in on his horse and save them from a dragon just because it’s a Tuesday. Readers don’t care about your character’s bowel movements (unless you make a joke of it, like Bridesmaids).
People read fiction to escape reality. For just a moment your own problems disappear. Instead of dreading work tomorrow, you are marooned on an island with nothing but a shovel. Next time you become a princess trapped in an ivory tower and swoon when someone comes to save you. In the next story, you are a badass heroine who knows how to save herself. And with each story, you get a piece of humanity without also being bogged down by anxiety. You find a small piece of yourself in those characters and they make you braver, more ready to take on the dragons in your own life.
Reality was God’s greatest gift to man. But fiction was man’s greatest gift to himself.
Now if you write a romance and every character is rich and famous and pink and yellow and they live on an island with money-pooping llamas and everyone’s flawless and you go too far towards surrealism, well… good luck finding people who want to read that story.
If your characters are too imaginary who is going to relate to them? Who is going to root for them to win? We all want to find pieces of ourselves in stories. That’s the whole point.
Didn’t I just say DON’T be realistic? Now I’m saying you need to be realistic? Gah. Don’t you just hate when people contradict themselves like that?
What I’m saying is you need to find balance. Your story doesn’t need to be so real that you describe how often they poop or add “umm” or “like” or “…” to every conversation. You don’t need to make sure all their changes take place in a realistic timeline.
Writing is a balancing act between real and make-believe and you are a grand trapeze walker, braving the act for the world’s entertainment. And friend, you’ve got this.
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So...You Want to be a Writeblr? | A Crash Course and Resource Guide
This post was primarily made for people wanting to make a writeblr and those new to the community in mind, but can be used for anyone. So, who am I? Hi, Maddie here. I've been on writeblr for a few years so I'm pretty sure I know how this whole writeblr thing works, and I wanted to give some advice that worked for me to new writeblrs who might not know where to start!
This crash course will generally cover these topics:
how to get started
intros and formatting them
interacting with the community
graphics, edits, and where to make them
but if you'd like me to go over something that I missed or glossed over, feel free to send me an ask!
— how to get started.
The first decision you'll have to make is whether your writeblr will be a primary or secondary blog. Primary blogs allows you to reply and follow other writeblrs as your writeblr, but it will require making another tumblr account if you want a clean slate. Secondary blogs will make it easier to keep everything under one account and move/change primary blogs as needed, but you can only interact with others as your primary blog outside of reblogs.
Once you've made your blog, I recommend taking some time to choose a good blog theme for people who visit your blog. You want something visually pleasing and easy to read/navigate.
@serpentarii made a list of theme recommendations for writeblrs here.
@writerthemes is an entire blog centered on finding themes and pages for writeblrs.
— intros and formatting them.
Once you have your blog set up, go and make a writeblr intro! These serve to get your name out into the community and is a quick way show people who you are and what you're working on. You can format your intros however you want, but I recommend including these key points.
Writeblr intros tend to follow this general format:
General Personal Info: Name you'd like to go by, pronouns, age*, a little bit about yourself and your hobbies (optional)
Your WIPs: If you have multiple, give a brief summary of the plot and its genres. If you plan to only have one, feel free to combine your writeblr and wip intro
*Age: a lot of people on writeblr are young and/or cautious of people they interact with. It's absolutely ok to not specify your age, but at least indicate whether you are an adult or a minor and do not lie about your age range.
WIP Intros are a great way to summarize what your wip is about to anyone wanting to learn more. Most WIP intros tend to include the:
Brief summary of main characters (optional)
Draft Status (optional)
Character Intros are optional but they're popular posts to make. You can be as detailed or as vague as you want. Basic character intros include:
Their general Info: name, age, pronouns
— interacting with the community.
Writeblr is a community for writers to make friends and find support; what you get out of writeblr depends on what you give back to it, and that means taking the first step and interacting with others. There's no foolproof way to get the kind of interactions you might want, but here's a couple of ways that worked for me:
Interact with other people's wips: find writeblrs and wips you like and start commenting on them! Even if it's just in the tags, or a reaction image, or a key smash.
Participate in ask events like Storyteller Saturday (StS), Meet and Greet Monday (MGM or MaGM), and Worldbuilding Wednesday (WbW): Send people asks relating to their wip on these days. It's a good way to start interacting with other people and most writeblrs tend to send an ask back. There are also a lot of open questions posted on writeblr that you can reblog and answer.
Use common writeblr tags to get your posts out: #writeblr #writers on tumblr #writing #writers some writeblr networks also have open tags for anyone to used
Join a writing discord: there are a lot of writing discord groups floating around, and the informality of discord makes it a lot easier to get to know other writers. It's also a good place to get writing advice, wip help, share your work with others, and just have fun. (Shameless promo for wtw - come join us guys <3)
BONUS: here's a post i made on my old account about some general writeblr etiquette.
— graphics, edits, and where to make them.
Writeblr is a place specifically for writing, but I can't deny that people are more likely to pay attention to a work if there's pretty graphics to go along with it. For people who might be new to making graphics or edits, here are a few resources to get you started
Canva.com is a great resource for beginners. It's a free browser-based graphic design platform with a lot of free photos and graphics you can mess around with. You need to make an account to use it and some resources are behind a pay wall, but you can do a lot of things with what is free.
Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels are some of the best places to get unlicensed, royalty-free photos to use in your graphics as opposed to pinterest.
Tumblr also has a lot of free PSDs you can use to make edits. You'll need some basic photoshop skills and a photoshopping software. Make sure to credit the maker if you use their PSD.
Photopea is a free, broswer-based Photoshop alternative. It has a tendency of crashing or lagging sometimes, but it gets the job done.
GIMP is another Photoshop alternative that you can download to your computer.
— helpful writing blogs.
This is far from an extensive list of writing-resource blogs out there. These are just a few blogs that have helped me in my own writing and what I hope might help you guys too.
The ScriptX Blog Family is an ever growing and changing network of blogs of content experts ranging from a wide variety of topics ranging from psychology, medicine, equestrians, military, autism, ballet, foodies, etc.
@writingwithcolor a wonderful writing/resource blog centered around racial, ethnic, and religious diversity. For those writing characters outside their own race/ethnicity/religion, here is a good place to ask questions and concerns you might not easily be able to answer.
@rainbowwriting a writing/resource blog centered around helping writers include better LGBTQIA+ diversity. [Note: I'm not certain if they're still active, but their archive is still a good place to read up on and get information.]
@wordsnstuff had a ton of writing-related resources from developing plot, characters, researach, drafting, prompts, and even genre-specific resources.
@inky-duchess is not only a fantastic writer but she's also very knowledgable on European history, how monarchies and the aristocracy work, and different writing theories.
@pens-swords-stuff is both a wonderful writer and a good source of writing-related advice!
@howtofightwrite a blog for writers looking to write realistic fight scenes
@mimzy-writing-online is another great writer and a writing advice blog! They have a useful advice series on writing visually-impaired and blind characters as well as more general writing-related advice.
Welcome to the writeblr community. I hope this post helped you and happy writing!
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Character Mannerisms in Conversations
ends sentences with 'no?' (As far as I know, I think this is usually seen in non-native English speakers. Let me know if you'd like me to do a post about mannerisms in non-native English speakers, being one myself)
keeps clearing one's throat but doesn't say anything
begins sentences with 'so'
keeps referencing to films no one in the room has watched
quotes poetry in between conversations
speaks very fast without leaving breaks and so breaths heavily once finished
speaks so slow that no one's even listening most of the time
begings with a low volume but gradually increases one's volume. Up until it's almost like shouting.
moving hands while speaking but one's fingers are pointing to a four. Basically imagine someone pointing to a nearby building. Instead of pointing one finger/all the fingers, the person points 4 fingers. (need not be because of any ailment. Or could be)
moving hands while speaking but in a thumb's up sign. Imagine someone talking about wheels so they're moving their hands in circles. But they do the same with a thumb's up sign.
Read the part 2 of this series here!
Feel free to send an ask. I'm as lonely as you can imagine so I'll probably reply soon.
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What My Followers Want to See More of in Female Characters
My favorite thing in my WIP is all the badass female characters I have. I love writing about the bonds, friendships, relationships, and rivalries between them. It makes my little heart so happy! And, I will be the first person to admit that I hadn’t even thought of some of the things you guys suggested on our little instagram poll, but I cannot wait to add some of them to my story! Even though we’ve made so many leaps and bounds with the way female characters are portrayed, I still think we’ve got a long way to go, and if you guys include half of the stuff you suggested in your stories, then I think we’re gonna be okay. Once again, I didn’t change anything that you guys wrote, so there are gonna be some repeats on the list, but this time just because the list was getting so long, I did take out a few things if I saw that several other people had suggested it!
“Nerdy” or sporty girl who gets a love interest without a makeover or changing herself
super girly femme characters shown as a complex person
making her own decisions, if good or bad
a strong female character without a tragic backstory
gender non conformity!!
Being openly children and not changing her mind about it
chubby and flaws and not having a crush with every cute boy they see
girlie girls who are still really powerful
self reliance but still having emotion, not being ice cold but not needing a a man
lesbians who’s entire character arc isn’t about them being a lesbian
having body insecurities eg wanting to be flat-chested
women in politics and women that have classic “man” as well as “woman” characteristics
be less oblivious lol and more like real people who pick up hints
not dead caring moms.
comic relief female characters
not minding about liking “girly” things/ having a bunch of friends who are boys but there is no romance between them
being a mother doesn’t mean giving up ur dreams and settling for less,
having mcs that actually make smart decisions
a bad ass character that loves kids and wants to have them in the future
not taking abuse cause they think it’s love
ball gowns and pretty stuff for themselves and not for a mission or anything
more bold female characters since many females are shown as shy
having a big appetite
female characters who can be cool without having to wield swords
willingness to do domestic work with a cheerful heart
women whose strength is their intelligence
women who are not afraid to be feminine or strong
strong mother figures
girls that are the lead in their relationship over the boy
more actual girly interests
the women you least expect to sing the best
strong women who like feminine stuff
being happy without a romantic relationship
black females being protected or vulnerable for once
ending up single
hanging out with male friends with no romantic subtext
females who aren’t super pretty
ultra femininity (pink, dresses, glitter, makeup) that isn’t seen as bad/evil/weak
allow them to look up to/admire male peers rather than feel inferior or as if they have something to prove
traditional “femininity” isn’t regarded as weak! Can cook/sew/clean and it’s normal : )
Female characters who are funny and make quips
soft, kind women, who are still powerful. I don’t like the mean strong girl stereotype : (
Not forced strong women. Just relatable and human ones. We all have strengths and weaknesses
less insecurities. Yes, we all have those, but it’s becoming stereotypical, mostly in YA
I want them to be strong without being upright bossy
strong women who also embrace their feminine side
a girl with menstruation
ego actions- I feel like only male characters can throw ego actions while fem characters are classified selfish
nonbinary female characters
has a twin
sarcasm and general impoliteness without making them the bady guy
them being warriors or soldiers and that’s normal, nobody questions it
villains and manipulating
autistic female characters
being single throughout the story. Some people like being single, thank you very much
not being the perfect pretty little thing. Having an interesting personality and thoughts, dreams outside of relationships and being a badass
a morally grey female character like y r those only men
girls and women in healthy relationships with personalities aside from their S/O
girls who can be strong and confident while still being emotionally vulnerable
also, girls who own huge “aggressive” dog breeds
groups of girls doing really impulsive things together like all guy friend groups do
strong, but not jerks about it and not looking down on things like sewing/cooking/etc
shyness that doesn’t need to be “fixed” or overcome
well written romances- straight and gay (ie not ones that objectify one partner or the other)
“strong female characters” who are gentle and caring! Tough doesn’t mean heatless!
women who care more about the plot than their inconvenient love life
girls who empower other girls and don’t play into internalized misogyny
i’d love to see women putting forward their ideas and having their voices heard more : )
Strong in their own way, not just hands on fighting stuff. Like mentally strong
less who are arrogant and rude to the male protagonists who they fall in love with anyway
More LGBTQ+ women!
Oh and more female protagonists who stay single
being average looking, not a hot model and being okay with it
Not falling for “bad boys”
saving herself or another character from a dangerous situation
not wanting marriage or children and people being okay with it
not obsessed with looks
being good at math and sciences
not being sexualized constantly (or at all)
being just friends with straight male characters
being like other girls
having a life outside of romance
to not need a man, but also not to be a stereotypical “bad girl, I don’t need man” authors need to find a medium between the two
drinking, swearing, anything deemed “masculine”
confident women who embrace both their femininity and masculinity
empowering other women
somebody with variety of interests and skills that are shown to be important to her badass female characters who are genuinely kind/even loving
strong women who don’t discredit the model of the ideal woman of the time in historical fiction
older women protagonists! I’d love to read about middle aged female heroes
females that aren’t afraid to be themselves
strength without being a “baddie” or at the expense of others
emotional sensitivity that isn’t linked to mental illness, men, or a weakness in character
a chaotic neutral female protagonist
physically strong/skilled female characters that remain feminine and aren’t femme fatales
female characters that don’t particularly fit into a trope as that’s not really realistic
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