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On Writing: Unasked Questions

If a book is to have a sequel, obviously you don’t want to give up all the information in the first installment.  There should always be questions unanswered, mysteries to be solved, plot lines that need continuing.  That is, after all, the point of a series.  I’ve no problem with that.

What I take issue with is questions that are unasked.

“How did her parents know to hide from the supposedly-benevolent government?”

“Why are all these kids being experimented on?”

“Who the hell thought factions would actually work?”

It is fine if the answers to these questions are left for a later book.  As long as the questions are posed, I know that they’ll be addressed later, I know that the author is aware that there is a question there.  If these questions are ignored, what assurance do I have that they’ll be solved later?  How do I know that it’s not going to remain a plot hole?

There are two things to keep in mind in this regard: every reader’s time is limited and perception is reality.  I can’t read every book out there, so I’m not (usually) going to going to spend it on sequels when the first novel feels lacking.  And, since I can’t read your mind and see that you plan to answer all my questions in a brilliant fashion, you have to let me know this is going to happen in the book I’m reading.  If I perceive the book to be full of plot holes, then it doesn’t matter if they’re going to be filled in later, because right now all I’ve got are plot holes and no hope.

Have your characters wonder about things.  Have them ask questions.  Turn your plot holes into mysteries.  Curious characters are your friend.

on writingwriting tipsplot holescurious characterswriting a series
07.23.1433 NOTES ReblogComments
City of Heavenly Fire: Ch 3

Clary, Jocelyn, and Luke all settle into Amatis’s abandoned house.  Luke is, of course, distraught at all the reminders of his missing sister, and Jocelyn comforts him.

It was more comforting than in any way romantic, but Clary still felt as if she had stumbled on a private moment.

I feel like this is everything you need to know about the book in a nutshell.  The ‘surprise’ than intimacy can mean more than just romance and the need to point out that hugging someone isn’t a precursor to boning, like they’re so focused on romance that anything non-romance comes a shock, the need to take even things that aren’t romantic and remind us that romance is still around…  This passage just really pisses me off.  Like, why can’t you just let a quiet moment be a quiet moment?

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city of heavenly fire
07.21.1413 NOTES ReblogComments
On Writing: Classist Characters

This one is for mynamesdrstuff, who asked how to write a classist character.

  • Classist characters don’t have to be mean.  As in, they don’t have to be willfully malicious about their classism.  Classism is a systemic form of prejudice in which both individuals and the society/system at large treat people differently based on their class or perceived class.  A person does not have to be cackling and twirling a handlebar mustache while kicking orphans in order to achieve this.  They can, in fact, be perfectly cordial with a world of sympathy in their eyes while telling the homeless man that they won’t hire him because he’s probably a drunk.  They can even smile while offering pay for rehab.  If they make the assumption that homeless = drunk without any proof beyond their own suppositions, they’re still classist.  So the first step to writing a classist character is to accept that a whole range of actions from well-meaning to mean-spirited fall under the classist banner.  Understand that you need to write your classist character as having motivations that span that range.  (Or, at least, a human-sized portion of it.)  Displaying classist characters too narrowly (especially if you’re narrowed in on the evil end) means that readers are going to get a warped vision of what classism is.  We need to see classists as squishy and human, not in an attempt to forgive/absolve them, but because squishy human problems need squishy human solutions.  Coming at things from a cartoon villain angle just compounds the issue.

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on writingwriting tipscharacter developmentclassist characterswriting antagonistsclass privilege
07.21.14844 NOTES ReblogComments
“Towards the whole "pronouns hurt people's feelings" topic. Am I REALLY the only person on the planet that thinks people are becoming far to sensative? Nearly to the point that they shouldn't leave their little home bubbles in the case that a bird chirps next to them in a way that sounds like a mean word. Maybe, JUST MAYBE, we're becoming a little TOO coddling and people need to learn to deal with simplistic shit like words. And yes, I've been insulted and made fun of. I got over it. So can you.”
-Anonymous

thefrogman:

Supposedly invented by the Chinese, there is an ancient form of torture that is nothing more than cold, tiny drops falling upon a person’s forehead. 

On its own, a single drop is nothing. It falls upon the brow making a tiny splash. It doesn’t hurt. No real harm comes from it. 

In multitudes, the drops are still fairly harmless. Other than a damp forehead, there really is no cause for concern. 

The key to the torture is being restrained. You cannot move. You must feel each drop. You have lost all control over stopping these drops of water from splashing on your forehead. 

It still doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. But person after person, time and time again—would completely unravel psychologically. They all had a breaking point where each drop turned into a horror. Building and building until all sense of sanity was completely lost. 

"It was just a joke, quit being so sensitive."

"They used the wrong pronoun, big deal."

"So your parents don’t understand, it could be worse."

Day after day. Drop after drop. It builds up. A single instance on its own is no big deal. A few drops, not a problem. But when you are restrained, when you cannot escape the drops, when it is unending—these drops can be agony. 

People aren’t sensitive because they can’t take a joke. Because they can’t take being misgendered one time. Because they lack a thick skin. 

People are sensitive because the drops are unending and they have no escape from them. 

You are only seeing the tiny, harmless, single drop hitting these so-called “sensitive” people. You are failing to see the thousands of drops endured before that. You are failing to see the restraints that make them inescapable.

07.19.1424748 NOTES ReblogComments
“I come to you cos I know you'll give a good insight! In Divergent I found Tris' friendship with Christina incredibly unbelievable in the sense Tris called Christina her 'best friend' after only a couple of weeks and not a huge amount of time spent alone together. - Like, did Tris have no friends before she became Dauntless? Is that why Christina made it as her best friend, since she literally was Tris' closest friend by default? It's been bothering me a lot and I wondered if you noticed it too?”
-Anonymous

Considering how batshit fucking screwed up Abnigation is in that book, I’d say the situation of “first real friend” is entirely plausible.

07.19.1413 NOTES ReblogComments
“Aside from Seraphina, is there any other YA books that have something to do with worldbuilding and magic that you'd recommend? I've been trying to find YA books that actually cares about worldbuilding but really when I go to the bookstore all I see is: "will she/he choose to save her/his love interest and betray everyone else' cliche. Like, really, all of them. So yeah... YA because I'm stll kinda hesitant on reading 'heavy' books...I know, it's not good. :s”
-Anonymous

Anything by Tamora Pierce is going to scratch that itch.

You might also try Ship Breaker, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Seven Realms, Sorrow’s Knot, and Witchlanders.  It’s really hard to find a book that isn’t stuffed with romantic subplots.  (Adult books, too.)  But the ones on this list also have some pretty snazzy worlds.

Try the Enchanted Forest Chronicles and stuff by Gail Carriger, too.  Both of them take a more whimsical approach to worldbuilding, so it’s not stuff that’s going to hold up logically, but when it’s weird on purpose, there’s a lot of fun you can have.

book recommendationsworldbuilding
07.19.1426 NOTES ReblogComments
“Was the the-army-is-making-me-shave-a-beret thing a joke or were you serious? Why would you have to shave a beret? Why that specific hat?”
-Anonymous

Not a joke.  We wear berets with our dress uniforms.  They’re made of wool, which has lots of flyaway hair and gives the beret a ‘fuzzy’ appearance.  We have to shave them to get the fuzz off.  And that’s just the first step of making them wearable, according to the army.  They come out of the package stiff and non-head-shaped, so we have to fix that, too.  Why they decided to go with a style of beret that takes so much work, I don’t know.

My last beret, which I’ve had for years and was perfect, got a hole in it the day before I had to wear it, thus the reason I had to get a new one and shave it in a hurry.

07.19.146 NOTES ReblogComments
“Would it be out of line for me to ask about what you know regarding military medics? Do they receive the same combat training, less combat training, do they ever see combat? Hell, just listing specific M*A*S*H episodes that are the most realistic would help.”
-frauvelv

I don’t know all that much about medics.  I know that doctors and chaplains don’t carry guns; in both professions there’s a big “do no harm” pillar, but medics aren’t technically doctors.  They’re basically first line responders, like EMT technicians.

They do go on missions with everyone else; there’s at least one medic riding along every time someone rolls out.  Oddly enough, when I deployed, they sent out female medics as often as possible.  Because female locals can only be searched by other females, and because women aren’t allowed in the infantry, they tried to fill out the ‘extra’ roles like medics and MPs with women so that there was one on every convoy.

According to GoArmy, they go through regular basic training, which is honestly about as much ‘combat training’ as any non-comabt-oriented MOS gets.

07.18.147 NOTES ReblogComments
“What annoys you most about characters?”
-mynamesdrstuff

blackjackgabbiani:

readingwithavengeance:

Then they say “wow, that was a weird thing that just happened.  I’m going to studiously ignore it and do my utmost to pretend it didn’t happen.”

There are an astounding number of protagonists who don’t just do that, they actually say that.  It never fails to make me want to throttle them.

Unfortunately there are people who do that irl.

Doesn’t mean I have to enjoy reading about them.

07.18.14308 NOTES ReblogComments
“Least favorite trope?”
-placentalmammal

"Waaaaaah, I have all this stuff, but I don’t waaaaant it!  I mean, I’m still going to enjoy it and use it and get all the perks from it, but as long as I profess moral disgust at the same time, it doesn’t count as being shallow, right?  BTW, here, have a list of brand names."

honesty hour
07.18.1421 NOTES ReblogComments
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