Asked by Anonymous
It’s definitely a case-by-case basis, and the main key of figuring out which is best for your story is to first figure out what will introduce your story best to your readers. A lot of books start off with very quiet beginnings because that’s the best way to do so, and to be fair, it’s not that difficult to see why. Quieter beginnings allow for more exposition, which is especially important if you want to introduce a reader to a new world or concept. Take a look at Harry Potter for example. The first book starts off with an extremely quiet beginning, but that works because it’s a good setup for an introduction to the wizarding world. We know, by the end of the first chapter, that there was a war, that there was a terrible force that threatened it, that there is magic, that there is a definite separation between the magical and non-magical world, and that Harry Potter is a very important baby. Likewise, for the Hunger Games, the first book starts off with Katniss expounding on the state of Panem, but that works because we have no idea what Panem is or what Katniss’s place is in the whole thing. The ideas that are established in the first chapter are extremely vital for understanding her actions in all three books, and that’s something that we wouldn’t have gotten if we were just shown an example of the games in action.
By contrast, an in medias res beginning (or one where you start smack in the middle of action) is a more dynamic start, and whereas quiet beginnings pose answers, in medias res beginnings pose questions. In a way, it detaches the story from the characters by refocusing the narrative on what the characters do, not what their world is like or who they are. So if you want a book full of intrigue and mystery, sometimes it is better to show the murder before the detective or to show the battle before the politics of why it’s happening or … you get the idea.
In other words, which beginning is best for your book depends on the effect you want. If you want people to ask questions about what’s going on and why it’s happening, it’s often better to start with action. If you want people to visualize your world, start slowly. I will say, though, that of the two possibilities, a fast-paced beginning is harder to pull off than a slower one, especially if you’re newish to writing. The reason why is because pacing and foreshadowing—or, in other words, figuring out how much information is too much and understanding how to pose questions in a narrative—are difficult things to pull off. All too often, a writer will fail to provide enough detail to allow readers to form questions, and then they wonder why people are saying that there are plot holes in their work. It’s much easier to start with writing slower beginnings in order to get a handle of how to distribute information and then figure out how to write a beginning wherein not everything is laid out for a reader.
Asked by Anonymous
This is a tough question to answer because this is a problem inherent with all Nuzlocke challenges, and most Nuzlockers don’t actually answer it. The easiest solution I can think of is taking a creative liberty or few.
There are two possibilities here, and which you take depends on how closely you want your story to match canon. First, you have probably the more common option, which is to change when the death occurs. A lot of Nuzlocke authors (comic writers included) tend to change things here or there to fit what’s most convenient for their storyline. For one example, I know that the Nuzlocker YinDragon (whose comic is fabulous, so I highly recommend people go read it) has at one point said that she didn’t actually win a battle using the exact move portrayed in her comic or that she didn’t actually have Bill use Metronome or so forth. This all is relevant because it means that people are okay with changes to your story so long as you’re roughly faithful to the way your Nuzlocke challenge happened. So as long as you, for example, have the exact team you have when you go to face the next gym leader, it’s completely okay. In that same vein, if you want to “reschedule” a character’s death for a wild Pokémon or any other battle where it’d be easier to explain why the death happened, that’s totally within your right.
The other option is to change the way the world works. To use another example from the Nuzlockers I follow, Loki-Wings’s Out.Law Soul takes place in an alternate universe Johto wherein battles tend to be more vicious because the League in that universe are a tyrannical organization out to suppress the main characters (who belong to an anarchist rebel group). In that case, it’s definitely understandable that a Pokémon death would happen, just because battles there are more desperate and bloody. You don’t have to be restricted to a dystopia or an alternate universe, either (although both are extremely handy explanations). Perhaps you want to write about a time before the league rules were drawn up, so no one said you need to restrict your Pokémon’s power. Perhaps you want to write about an underground fighting league where a Pokémon’s well-being isn’t as much of a concern. Perhaps you may even want to write something like Pokémon Revolution, wherein Pokémon powers are no longer dampened thanks to legendary shenanigans.
Point is, in order to make a Pokémon death make sense via option two, you’ll need to first redefine the world your characters live in. You’ll need to address the fact, one way or another, that Pokémon and people are canonically locked in a relationship where battles aren’t fatal and, in actuality, help a trainer and a Pokémon grow closer. In other words, you’ll need to approach the fact that you’re going off of a cutesy fantasy world where everything is good and almost nothing hurts, and then, from there, figure out how to make your world make sense. In other words, in order to figure out a way around the most basic problem with Nuzlockes, you’ll need to do a lot of world building.
Of course, you’ll probably want to do that with either option. After all, even Team Rocket doesn’t kill Pokémon (in game canon, anyway), and for whatever reason, wild Pokémon understand that they should stop at a fainting. At least a good pack of creative liberties will cover the latter, and some good characterization will take care of the former.
Suicide is NOT an Act of Weakness;
and People Who Die by Suicide are Not Weak
by Kevin Caruso
Would anyone say that dying from cancer is an act of weakness? And that people who die from cancer are weak?
Would anyone say that dying from heart disease is an act of weakness? And that people who die from heart disease are weak?
Would anyone say that dying from a stroke is an act of weakness? And that people who die from a stroke are weak?
Indeed, it would be idiotic to say that dying from cancer, heart disease, or a stroke is an act of “weakness.” Such an utterance would represent a level of unparalleled ignorance and insensitivity, to say the least.
Yet some people will say that suicide is an act of weakness and that people who die by suicide are weak – but this statement is as ignorant, insensitive, and incorrect as the statements about cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
Over 90 percent of the people who die by suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death and thus they are not thinking clearly, and they usually are experiencing excruciating emotional pain.
They are not weak; they are ill – just like people with cancer are ill. So the word “weakness” should never be uttered in association with suicide.
Clinical depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses can cause people to do many things that they would never do if they were not ill, including die by suicide. So “weakness” has NOTHING to do with suicide.
Also, using an incorrect word like “weakness” perpetuates the strong stigma associated with suicide. And uttering such an ignorant word in association with suicide is extremely disrespectful and hurtful to suicide survivors.
Suicide is not an act of weakness; it is an act stemming from a serious mental illness, and the words we use in association with suicide should reflect that fact.”
Just a reminder. Whenever the subject comes up, I see that word.
In science fiction novels (especially the hardcore ones), descriptions are key for readers to understand the rules of this new world. That is why a false-step in this aspect can potentially ruin your success and provoke ridicule, scorn, and a trip to the pillary (if you happen to live in Medieval…
Asked by Anonymous
It sounds like you could use some reference sheets, and there’s an easy way to make some for OCs, assuming you’ve got a pretty good grasp on the general concept behind them and what their world is like. Going through a few of these will help you hammer out the little details behind who your characters are and get you used to writing as or working with your characters. Here are a few places where you can find some detailed ones:
If you’re not into character memes, you can also make reference sheets by writing up a loose character profile containing character history, personality, occupation, physical details, and anything else you’d think you’d use. Alternatively, you can also sit down for a set period of time (say, an hour or so) and write down notes on everything you can think of in any particular order for your character. While writing, go back and consult what you’ve written about them to help remind yourself what your characters are like.
It’s definitely okay to create and rely on reference sheets for your characters as you’re writing because some authors work best when they keep their thoughts incredibly organized. Sometimes, it takes breaking away from your writing and drawing up notes or answering questions someone else has compiled in order to really get to know who your characters are. So definitely don’t be afraid to spend a lot of time planning out your characters.
Hope that helps!
Asked by Anonymous
Ah, writer’s bias. You either end up thinking that your work is the best ever or thinking your work is the absolute worst.
What I would suggest is getting yourself a support group. What I mean is share bits and pieces with friends in order to get their feedback or, more reasonably, get a beta.
Lots of people believe that a beta reader is only used for copyediting, but actually, good ones will also be your writing support. Betas should be available to bounce ideas off of or to help go through the editing process with you. Granted, it’s never a good idea to rely on them for everything because they’re people with their own schedules, but when you look for a beta reader, you’ll want to find someone who’s open to communicating with you even before the editing stages.
Other than that, always remember that if you think your work sucks, chances are it’s a lot better than what you think it is. Your self-criticism is good to have in that you’ll be more likely to look at your work and spot the tiniest errors, but try to be objective at the same time when you do it. Don’t pass judgment on your own work; only look for parts that could be improved. Above all, don’t let yourself shelve your work. Always focus on fixing basic issues and seek out a second opinion.
Ultimately, remember that regardless of how critical you are of yourself, you’re better than you say you are. After all, you put part of yourself in your work to get the first draft done, so surely, part of that work is something you’ve been wanting to see written down. Just remember that the editing process doesn’t have to be something you do alone, and even then, it’s okay to have issues in the first draft. It’s when you start thinking that your first draft is perfect that you start having troubles, but if you walk into editing knowing that your work could be better (as you are now), there will always be something that’s good enough to make it to the second draft or publication.
You can do it, anon!
Asked by Anonymous
Try a stream-of-consciousness exercise. It’s pretty fun, and it’s a good way of working through writer’s block.
Here’s how to do it:
1. First of all, you’ll need a blank something. Blank pages in a notebook, blank word processor document, or blank whatever you’re most comfortable using for writing. You’ll also need a spare chunk of time. I would recommend making it a nice, even number, such as a spare hour or a spare fifteen minutes. Give yourself enough time to write, in other words. Lastly, you’ll need a space where you can write without distraction. The more distractions you get, the less likely you’ll be focused on writing, quite obviously. Optional things to grab before writing? A timer or stopwatch (if you want to be exact with your timing) and spare writing materials.
2. The second step is start writing. Just write down whatever comes to mind. What you write doesn’t even really have to be full sentences or scenes. They can be phrases, concepts, lists, lines, the word “strawberry” over and over again—literally whatever comes to mind. You don’t need to focus on anything in particular, although if you’re fishing for ideas specifically, you could try to hone in on story concepts or subjects and flesh things out when one hits you.
3. Do not stop writing until your chunk of time is over. Part of what stream-of-consciousness writing is is just writing down literally anything, so once you hit a dead end, just write whatever is on your mind and start down a different direction. Do not edit. Do not think too hard about what to write. Just keep writing.
4. When however much time you wanted to spend on the exercise has elapsed, stop and take a short breather. Then, read back over what you wrote. Don’t edit at this point either. The reason why you’re reading is to see if any ideas pop out at you. You may want to separate those concepts and flesh them out into full stories.
At the end, you’ll be able to satisfy your need to write without really having any particular subject to write about.
A second possible remedy is, of course, seeking out writing prompts. There are quite a few writing prompt communities on the internet (here is a search link for ones you can find on Tumblr), and these can be used to give your brain a jumpstart, so to speak. Try browsing through prompt communities to see if a post or few sparks your imagination.