World Building Prompt #325
Visual Writing Prompt #325
Anything that is a “writing rule” but is not strictly related to grammar.
Never say said. Never use adverbs. Every scene must always progress the plot in some way.
Any writing rule that uses the words never, must, always, every time, also has a situation in which you should break the rule.
-Said has been confirmed to be a good dialogue tag. It’s considered the go to, and other tags should be used occasionally, when you need to emphasize the tone or importance of a specific line.
-Adverbs should be used sparingly, only when needed, but they can be used.
-Some scenes can ignore the main plot if they’re delving into character development or progressing side plots.
But grammar rules that tell you where to put your punctuation should be listened to, otherwise you’re going to be handed a manuscript painted red by the editor.
I also object to the advice that you must write every day. Even professional authors need days off. Not only is forcing yourself to write every day exhausting for the creative muscles on your brain, it can be hard on your body to sit there for hours at a time typing away.
Days off and frequent breaks are part of good self care. Neglecting your physical and mental health and needs will not make you a better writer.
The best metaphor (and cautionary tale) I’ve read about how to keep readers immersed in a story came from a book on poetry — Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual.
Recalling a childhood vacation on the Wisconsin River, Kooser writes:
I do vividly remember going for a ride in an excursion boat that had a clear glass bottom. It floated with grace and ease and a throbbing gurgle across water brightly dappled with summer sunlight. Beneath the glass floor I could see fish swimming, catfish and carp and gar, and rocks eroded into imaginative shapes, and soda bottles that people on earlier cruises had dropped over the side.
I remember being completely absorbed… [until a] woman sitting nearby leaned over too far and her white-rimmed cat’s-eye sunglasses slid off the end of her nose and fell with a clatter onto the glass. That sudden interference on the surface of the dreamy world beneath me brought my attention back to the glass floor, back to the ordinary world of being a little boy, hot and impatient and cross. The moment had been spoiled.
The moment had been spoiled.
I remember reading those words, and it resonated with me beyond just poetry. How many times had I been pulled out of a story because of metaphorical sunglasses clattering upon the page of the book I was reading?
I’m sure you’ve experienced the same.
So let’s talk about these sunglasses and how to avoid dropping them — to keep your readers immersed in the world you’ve created.
Types of “dropped sunglasses”
JOKES. So what are some of these dropped sunglasses that appear in our writing?
Well, the lowest hanging fruit include mistakes of grammar, spelling, rhythm, and flow. That’s why it’s important to edit and proofread our writing — so it reads clear, like polished crystal.
But there’s more than that, too. So much more. Beyond just mechanical mistakes, dropped sunglasses can really be anything that spoils the illusion of the world and characters you’ve created, such as:
- Someone acting out of character
- A disjointed plot
- Vague, confusing language
- An inconsistent reality
- Inconsistent tone
- Literary showboating (showing off just to show off)
But how do you spot these issues?
You’ll get better at noticing dropped sunglasses yourself over time, but the best help you’ll receive will be from the friends, writers, or beta readers who provide feedback on your story.
These readers can help with various aspects of your writing, but an additional request I’d recommend is asking them to mark all the places where something jolts them from the story. If they’re able to identify what distracted them, awesome; but if not, it’s still valuable to know where they were jolted so you can go back and investigate.
After that, use their feedback to fix problem areas and smooth out the prose.
That way the little Koosers of the future who read your story will never be startled by fallen sunglasses. Instead, they’ll just settle in, forget they’re reading — and enjoy the fish swimming by in the shimmering waters.
— — —
Hey there! My name’s Mike, and I’m a writer & copywriter with an MFA in fiction. For more tips on how to hone your craft and nurture meaningful stories, follow my blog.
Everyone builds characters a little differently. Some writers start with a very specific idea and craft a story around that, others have a general story and craft characters to fit– more often a mix of both methods depending on what kind of inspiration struck first.
This is a fun question because I have a lot of bits of info related to it that are scattered through the blog, so I’m adding them as embedded links. Anything linked is going to be a further explanation about the subject(s) mentioned and would be worth your time to look into because your question is a big one! I don’t want to leave things out but I also don’t want to repeat myself across too many posts.
There’s no right or wrong way to build a character, but to build “living and breathing” characters you’ll want to keep these things in mind:
Organization of Character Concept
One of the best ways to make sure your characters are “human” enough is to make sure you can understand their personality, motivations, and values. Part of understanding them means knowing where those three things come from, so while you don’t need a fully detailed backstory, you should have an idea of why they are the way they are.
There are a lot of character-building sheets out there, like this one (link embedded), however you wan’t to be careful when using these. Character building sheets can be an excellent tool for organization or for making you think about different aspects of character, but not all of them are built equally. The most important things about your characters are going to be their personality, motivations, and roles in the story, not 50 random facts about their favorite foods or aesthetics. Filling out character sheets with unnecessary info just for the fun of it is perfectly fine, but they can also novice-trap you into putting way too much emphasis on developing the wrong parts of a character. They can be useful and a fun tool, but don’t let them shift your story priorities away from what actually matters.
When you develop a character concept, you want to be careful about going to far that you get stuck in a box (link embedded). Planning is good, but too much planning combined with a lack of flexibility can leave your characters and story stuck in the mud. When you have a character concept, always keep the story you want to tell in the forefront of your mind and be prepared to tweak everything for optimal effect. It’s absolutely possible to develop a good story when all you have is a character, and the other way around, but isolated development with no flexibility is highly likely to hurt story development.
That said, sometimes you just need to play around with a character concept to experiment or help flesh someone out. Take a look at 10 Ways to Flesh-Out Characters (link embedded) as a start. It’s okay to play around with someone before you solidity your concept of them.
Two Main Important Factors of Characters that Feel Real
1. They are not a Bag of Traits divided into “good” and “bad” parts of themselves, but a dynamic individual with traits that can be strengths or weaknesses depending on the situation.
Though there are some traits that can be considered far from acceptable to have in a modern society and can be directly labeled as “flaws”, majority of personality traits aren’t inherently good or bad. Another way to think about character flaws: flaws are circumstantial (link embedded). It’s the situations the characters are placed in (and the culture of the environment) that makes the traits look positive or negative. Those situations are also known as the plot, so remember that a character’s weaknesses exist to present obstacles and create tension during the story. Because of this, a character’s flaws are best made in relation to the plot, otherwise they’ll fail to matter and possibly never show up.
As a character lives their story they should develop over time (unless you’re purposefully writing a Static Character). Character development doesn’t mean erasing weakness/flaws off a character sheet, it means the character’s personality is shifting to better fit for their current goals. They develop new strengths and new weaknesses, they just tend to look “better than before” because they’re now more ready to face their specific story (link embedded). It’s usually most realistic for characters to have a flux of positive and negative growth throughout the story, but what’s considered “positive” or “negative” is reliant on context.
In real life, we’re not bags of good/bad sorted traits but people who have traits and get different outcomes in situations depending on them. Part of writing realistic characters means crafting them to live rather than just run along a plot line designed to “fix” them.
2. They are relatable (read: they can be understood).
A Reminder About “Relatable” Characters (link embedded). Readers don’t have to agree with them or even like them, but they do need to be able to understand where they’re coming from. Even an unlikable character can be relatable if written well. Relatability helps readers connect to a character and human connection is a huge part of what makes someone feel “alive” in a story.
Writing Characters so they Feel Real
Crafting good characters is one thing, but it’s possible to have a great characters and bomb the process of showing them off. Make sure you:
Find their voice. All characters have different personalities and histories, and those personalities and histories contribute to their voice. It’s not just about how a narrator narrators but how people speak and conduct themselves. Finding Character Voice (link embedded) can sometimes mean not solidifying the idea until you’re halfway through the story and that’s okay! Voice usually develops alongside writing, not before it, so just fix it in a later draft.
Keep them consistent and avoid informed traits. A character that’s truly understood will be naturally consistent, and if an informed trait is when a character is labeled with a trait but doesn’t express it in-story, then simply have them express it in the story (link embedded). Consistency exists in real life so realistic characters will have it as well. Informed traits have a bit more leeway since you can hear that your neighbor is an amazing woodworker and never see the process, but in story writing, emphasis on informed traits can make characters seem very 2D.
Remember that personalities have layers. People don’t act exactly the same in all situations and strong character writing will reflect that. Check out these other posts on the details behind personality layers:
- External vs. Internal Character, Part 1: The Three Faces
- External vs. Internal Character, Part 2: Taking Advantage of POV
Address their individuality. Some parts being a person are shared with other people, but when it comes to personality we’re all different. When writing a story, it’s easy to get caught up in “assumed human behavior” when in reality not everyone is going to act exactly that way. An example of that would be Different Ways Characters Can Show Love (link embedded); easy to assume that all character express love by saying “I love you” but that’s far from true in reality and the individuality should be expressed in a good story.
Make sure the plot brings out who they are. You can craft amazing characters but fail to have them realized because the plot doesn’t allow for their depth to really show up. Mentioned before with how you shouldn’t develop characters and plot in pure isolation, your plot dictates what part of the characters the reader gets to experience. Diverting from the plot just to show an aspect of character is poorer writing, so involve your characters deeply in the story and don’t be afraid to tweak the plot or the characters to better support one another
Good luck with your character creation!
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Antagonist: A source of conflict
Main antagonist: The source of conflict for the main plotline in your story
Villain: A human (or humanoid) source of conflict
Main villain: A villain who happens to be the main antagonist
The reason why these terms are important: They are, in no way, interchangeable. Every story will have an antagonist, while not every story has a villain. Novels will probably have many antagonists, and every story should only have one main antagonist. And not every source of conflict that happens to be human is a villain; person vs. person conflict can be created by two well-intentioned people who just happen to oppose each other on something.
The difference can seem arbitrary, but it’s really not, especially when you write a story without villains, and the terminology really matters to me.
NEW VIDEO: WRITING MENTALLY ILL CHARACTERS
I write the title, you write the poem! Reblog with your piece :D
Does anyone have any advice on writing mute characters (or ones that can’t speak) ?
Any and all help is appreciated!
3We are beginning nano-camp 2020. My project for this month is, taking into consideration the quarantine, to finish revising my books.
And as a side project, I will post a few notes from a book I am reading right now.
We all have these projects that we are working on, but sometimes we get stuck on the first part. Writing the first draft. It is important to finish that first draft.
And the next part is daunting. Facing the mess that your past self left for your inner editor.
We have to find strength somewhere.
Personally. I rather liked the following quote, the introduction to the chapter on revising…
“One of the main differences between writers who succeed and those two don’t is the ability to revise -to be able to step away from the manuscript and see it clearly enough… The more effective you are at expressing your technical imagination through revision, the greater chance you will have of connecting with readers in the away you intended…
You owe it to the talking
pigpenguing, the woman with the steamrollergun and the potato-elfthe thing, hiding behind the potted plant to revise properly.”
From The Wonderbook, by Jeff Vandermeer
I owe it to my characters to see this story through.
Funfact. Did you know Patrick Rothfuss had 200 drafts of The Name Of The Wind before he published it?
See you all soon with more on revising.
I recently got a comment on Extra Life asking about how I plan out my stories and what my updating schedule was. My answer ended up really lengthy, and I thought I should share it here in case anyone was interested or wanted some
“Well, the way I write, I don’t plan things down to the chapter. I come up with a broad outline of plot points I want to hit during the story. So for Extra Life, that’d be:
1) Izuru saves Chiaki
2) Chiaki goes through rehabilitation and therapy
3) Events of DR1
4) Chiaki in the Future Foundation
5) Events of DR3
And then each “plot point” has a subcategory with scenes or events I think should be in the story–for character development, relationship development, worldbuilding, etc. This list is usually a lot longer than the above. So, for example:
1) Izuru saves Chiaki
a) The actual surgery
b) Protecting her from Junko
c) Maintaining her health after the surgery
d) Development of his thoughts and feelings towards her
e) Events of DR0
f) Izuru starts planning for SDR2
g) Izuru starts planning how to live safely in the Tragedy
And then I start writing the scenes themselves. I don’t really plan when or where a chapter should end, I just sort of “feel” “oh, this is a good place to stop” and do so. Leaving it loose like this also gives me freedom to add in new scenes or move things around if I come up with stuff later, rather than having to restructure everything–or take too long to start the story because I’m trying to make sure I’ve come up with every possibility!
For Extra Life, I told myself “upload every other Friday”. So it updated bi-weekly. Giving myself a deadline helped me put the chapters out on time; I tend to procrastinate without one. Of course, sometimes this isn’t feasible, and in that case I just try to write when I can and feel good about it, no matter how many or few words I put down.”
is there any website/blog i can use to ask about overdosing/drugs/etc. as research for writing without anyone worrying that i’m going to try something?
yours, a person with a worrying search history and a fbi agent who’s convinced i’m gonna kms
Collecting photos of everyday things and setting them aside can be useful when eventually you come to creating cover art.
PSA to siblingless writers, I have never once in my life Ever said good morning to my brother and do not see my self ever doing it. We literally do not speak a word to each other until we get home from school/work. That doesn’t mean we hate each other, we just don’t talk unless we have to. Dialogue in the a.m between siblings doesn’t exist so please remove it from your writing
I’ve seen a LOT of fics starring Roach. And it’s amazing, I love how this fandom just accepted a horse as an important character and went with it. I’d like to help the writers out and give some tips about writing horses! So, here we go:
physical limitations of a horse:
- two riders won’t fit in a saddle simultaneously (except if one of them is a very small child). a second rider won’t fit in front of the saddle as the saddle is located directly behind the neck of the horse. so the only way for a horse to carry two riders is one sitting behind the saddle as we saw in the djinn episode
- however it’s not a good idea to frequently ride in tandem as it’s very hard on the horse’s back
- about what a horse can or can’t carry: generally, it’s best to avoid the horse carrying above 20% of its body weight frequently. that includes the rider and the equipment. an average horse weighs about 500 kg, or 1100 lbs (though draft horses can be over twice the weight, but they’re not really built for riding). so 100 kg or 220 lbs is already quite a lot for a horse. obviously those are modern day standards based on modern knowledge and and historically horses used to carry quite a bit more
- horse height is measured in hands. an average horse is around 14-17 hands or 140-170 cm, though they can be significantly smaller or larger. Geralt is quite tall so Roach is probably somewhere around 170 cm, or 17 hands
- horses have a really large field of vision to their sides, but have a blind spot directly behind and directly in front of them
- a top speed of a horse is around 70 km/h, or 44 mph. note this is a top speed of a horse specifically bred for going fast, for a very short time
- the average speed of a galloping horse is 40-50 km/h, or 25-30 mph
- the gaits are walk, trot, canter and gallop. walk is slow-paced (about the same speed as human walk or slightly faster) and comfortable to ride. trot is faster but usually quite uncomfortable, being quite bouncy. it depends a lot on the horse, though. canter is generally faster than trot, is similar to gallop but slower, and actually more comfortable for the rider than trot. canter is the gait we see in ep5 when Geralt first brings Jaskier to Chireadan. a horse can also alter its speed within a gait, so, for example, fast trot can be faster than slow canter
- a horse can move at slow pace for a really long time, but only run at full speed for a short time. the most a horse can gallop at full speed is around 3-4 km, or 2-3 miles
- 80-100 km, or 50-60 miles in a day is a long distance for a horse to travel though doable. 50 km, or 30 miles in a day is more realistic, less if the terrain is difficult
some pointers about the gear:
- the horse wears a bridle when ridden. usually, the bridle has a metal mouthpiece called a bit. the part that the rider holds is called reins (not reigns. a king reigns. the bridle has reins) and the reins are connected to the bit from the both sides. the reins are gently used for steering and stopping/slowing down. a rider can let go of the reins while riding and they will hang against the horse’s neck, though if the horse lower its head, the reins may slip over the head to the ground (I can totally see that happening to Jaskier if he’s riding)
- alternatively, the horse can wear a halter. that’s what we see on Roach in ep6, when they’re preparing to leave for the mountain. halters aren’t generally used for riding, they lack the bit and are simpler but sturdier. they are used for tying or leading the horse. the lead rope is attached to the halter under the horse’s chin
- the saddle bags are placed behind the saddle on both sides and should be evenly filled
- the saddle is secured in place by a girth, which needs to be properly tightened. not tight enough girth can cause the saddle rolling to the side. you can use this to add some nice drama to your story!
- the rider’s feet are placed in stirrups. they can slip through the stirrups, which can potentially be really dangerous if the rider falls off the horse and gets dragged behind with the foot stuck in the stirrup. drama potential, again!
- a horse’s snout is called a muzzle. it’s very velvety soft and lovely. it’s also extremely flexible as well as sensitive, horses actually are able to differentiate between plants and tell which ones are edible with their muzzle. if you give a (well-behaved) horse a treat, she’ll gently pick it up from your palm with her lips and it will tickle a bit
- Netflix Roach is chestnut in color. game Roach is bay. some other horse colors are black and brown (duh), grey (the shade can vary greatly), palomino (golden), buckskin (golden with black mane and tail), dun (sandy), piebald (large black and white patches). true white horses are extremely rare, white-looking horses are usually white greys
- some horses mentioned in The Witcher 3 are Nilfgaardian black (”from the purest Nilfgaardian stock”), Redanian chestnut (”a pureblood Redanian. gallant steed, but too headstrong for my taste. difficult to control”) and Zerrikanian bay (”Zerrikanians are reputed to have incredible stamina”)
- limping in a horse is called lameness. a horse can go lame for a ton of reasons and it’s quite common. even a horseshoe coming off can make some horses lame
- a horse can kick really hard, easily hard enough to kill someone. horses are also able to kick incredibly high, even someone on the head, and are really precise with their kicks. a horse can kick with its front legs too, it’s called striking. kicking with back legs is usually defensive or fearful behavior while striking is full on aggression. horses can also bite or even grab people with their teeth but it’s really uncommon
- sometimes horses can also kick on accident, like knocking someone with their front hooves when rearing or trying to kick off a fly but kicking a person instead. that can happen easily if someone stands in their blind spot
- horses get spooked easily. when spooked, they usually rear or jump to their side and it’s easy to lose balance and fall off. a spooked horse can also bolt, which means galloping uncontrollably at full speed
- horses don’t neigh a lot. it’s really not that common. the most common sounds are nicker (a soft sound, often heard when a horse is happy to see its owner), snort (usually means contentment), or whinny (when the horse is spooked)
- an angry or frightened horse flattens its ears back towards its neck. its called ear pinning
- horses are extremely smart. they’re able to tell human facial expressions apart, recognise other horses and people even after years of separation, and learn very well. they’re not dogs, though, so they won’t sniff stuff out
- many horses will try and grab a bite of grass or leaves when riding at slow pace. stubborn ones may also stop to nibble on an especially delicious patch of grass
This ended up being quite a list, but I really hope someone will find this useful! Let’s make our favorite equine that little bit more well-written!
I just want my fellow writers to understand something.
Inconsistencies are not plot holes.
What do I mean by that? Well, I notice these days that a lot of people - both writers and not - use the term “plot holes” to mean anything that doesn’t make sense in a story, and, in my opinion, that’s not right! First, let’s see what Google has to say:
So now we understand something: a plot hole is an inconsistency, but that doesn’t mean that every inconsistency is a plot hole. There should be a distinction. A plot hole is an inconsistency that directly contradicts the narrative or the character development, it’s not just something that makes no sense to you or anyone else, it has to have significant weight as to how the story is told.
For example, if you told us that, in the beginning of your story, the characters cannot defeat the main villain with a certain weapon, and by the end one of your characters uses that exact weapon to defeat the villain, that’s a plot hole! You told us in the beginning that this weapon was useless against the villain and cannot (and should not) be able to solve our problem.
However if, say, one of your characters happens to get to a location in your story a little faster than what would be considered normal, that’s just a plain old inconsistency and shouldn’t be taken as seriously as something that disturbs your world’s rules or your characters’ personalities.
So, to break it down:
Inconsistency would sound something like this: “But how did they get from x to y that fast? It’s at least another mile or so!”
Plot hole: “The sword of destiny shouldn’t have been able to do that because they said it couldn’t in the beginning!”
Keep in mind that I’m not trying to tell anyone how to feel; you are completely within your right to be upset with an inconsistency you find within a story, but, depending on the inconsistency, maybe the whole story shouldn’t be considered a failure because some exist within it.
I’m also not trying to say not to survey your work and prevent mistakes, just not to freak out about them. I think this would help writers to feel less pressure during their writing if they remember this about art in general: there will be mistakes! Just try to not make the really big ones.
So, in conclusion, all plot holes are inconsistencies but not all inconsistencies are plot holes!
I’ve been having trouble with writer’s block lately and decided I had to write SOMETHING. So here it is, the problem itself document. I actually kind of enjoyed it and would like encourage others to do it too if you’re having the same problem!:)
“AUUGGHHHH,” she screamed, throwing her hands up in the air. “I HATE WRITER’S BLOCK.”
She almost threw her laptop to the side, but quickly thought better of it. She placed it on the table next to her bed instead. She took a deep breath and let it out in a huff.
“Okay. You’re just having a hard time right now.” She told herself, “it’s okay. After all, the best ideas come to you at unexpected moments.”
She knew what she was saying was true, but she couldn’t help the feeling of disappointment welling up inside her. All she wanted was to write. It was incredibly difficult when her own mind was working against her heart. She put her head in her hands and massaged her temples.
“It’s okay,” she said again, “Even Shakespeare had off days.” Although, she wasn’t entirely sure that was true. She raised her head and chuckled at her own attempt to make herself feel better. Which made herself feel the tiniest bit better. But that was enough. She stepped away from her laptop, opting to relax and distract herself for a bit. After all, the best ideas came to her at unexpected moments.
I feel a little hypocritical writing this since I predominantly like writing hurt/comfort, angst or fluff-related things, which is very difficult realistically speaking, considering it’s the adult trio we’re talking about here. It can get challenging trying to write while keeping them in-character. What I do like is that canonically, Togashi does humanize his characters, and he isn’t afraid to let his characters be goofy or show other sides to their personality, which gives them depth beyond the plot.
I’m not too sure what type of fics you’re going for anon, but what I usually like to do is to constantly ask myself questions when I’m writing. Does this feel right? Would they do this? How would they react to that? What would they do? Why would they do it? I can’t list the specifics, but I usually go with my gut feelings and if a line feels good to me, I let it sit and come back later to re-evaluate it. If it still feels good, I let it be, and if inspiration hits, I add more lines and read it again, changing things as I go. And if I feel something isn’t write, I go back and re-read what I wrote to figure out where things went wrong. Rinse and repeat, until you are finally satisfied with what you’ve written. I feel like by asking yourself these questions, you can place the adult trio in most situations and come up with some pretty interesting results, without feeling too out of place. Again, I really relate this back to how Togashi writes his characters, especially the adult trio and even the phantom troupe, by making them so human, he makes it possible to write them as such. Hardly any of the recurring characters are one-note wonders, and there’s so many facets to them to explore, which makes writing about them so very, very fun.
I can’t say for sure, but hopefully this was helpful. And if it doesn’t work, who cares? It’s your writing blog, and you should have fun writing whatever you want :)
On a side note, definitely keep reading! The fandom has tons of amazing writers who are just incredible and supportive of the community. Here are some of the hxh writing blogs I follow to get a good healthy dose of inspiration.
@iaal (their blog got me into hxh scene on tumblr, so I have a very soft spot for them. They haven’t been active in a long time tho, but do check out their work!)
@agent-cupcake (they write so, so well. An absolute unit. Probably the backbone of hxh’s writing scene at one point. Thing is that they don’t write hxh stuff anymore so please let them be and don’t harass them for more content!!)
@ask-hunterxhunter (I really like this blog since they make everything so soft, and I’m a sucker for that. They do mostly headcanons tho, which I still recommend reading! Updates are sparse)
@ramwrites (ok so I’m not sure I need to give an introduction here but if you haven’t checked their blog out please do so! Everything is so well-written and good lord, are their scenarios amazing. Their Chrollo fic here is probably some of the best I’ve read in forever)
@trashscenariihxh (I love the mix of humor and scenarios in this blog, they never fail to make me laugh with all their posts. On another note, their fics? Top tier 👌🏻)
@starstruck-thirst (I cannot recommend this blog enough. Something about the way they write is just so alluring that you can’t help but to keep re-reading their work. NSFW but somehow still soft??? Everhthjng is kept so classy and realistic that it made me fall in love with hxh all over again)
I write the title, you write the poem! Reblog with your piece :D