Anonymous Asked
QuestionHello, can you please tell me if mentioning things that are in the movies or tv shows is acceptable? E.g a character mentions the Tardis in a conversation about preventing events. I think it's okay, but better safe than sorry. Thank you Answer

thedancingwriter:

A brief mention like that, especially in just a conversation, is fine. However, if you actually put the Tardis in your book as a plot device, that’s definitely copyright infringement. My character in the current book I’m using uses the Eye of Sauron to describe how he feels when he’s being watched by another character. And lots of books, especially contemporary books, use a lot of pop culture references.

howtofightwrite:

Killers need to kill. It’s surprising how many writers ignore this very specific and important piece of the ones they claim are killers, heartless or not. Sometimes, there’s a difference between the character we describe in the text and the actions the character takes. An author can tell me over and over that a character is a deadly and dangerous person who strikes ruthlessly without mercy, but if they don’t behave that way in the actual story then I’m not going to buy it.

Show versus tell: the difference between who the author says the character is and the actions the character takes in the story. Especially if the actions counteract the description. Now, you do have characters who lie, characters who misrepresent themselves, characters who say one thing and do another, but these are not the characters we’re talking about. This is about ensuring that you, the author, know the character you are writing. Unless you’re hiding their habits, let us glimpse the worst they’re capable of.

Monster. I could tell Jackson I was a monster, but he wouldn’t believe me. He saw a strawberry blonde, five feet eleven inches. A waitress, a Pilates nut, not a murderer. The nasty scar across my slim waist that I’d earned when I was ten? He thought I’d gotten it from a mugging at twenty one. Just as a natural layer of womanly fat hid away years of physical conditioning, I hid myself behind long hair, perky makeup, and a closet full of costumes bought from Macy’s and Forever 21. To him, I was Grace Johnson. The woman who cuddled beside him in bed, the woman who hogged the sheets, who screamed during horror movie jump scares, the woman who forgot to change the toilet paper, who baked cookies every Saturday morning, the woman who sometimes wore the same underwear three days in a row. The woman he loved.

No, I thought as I studied his eyes. Even with a useless arm hanging at my side, elbow crushed; my nose smashed, blood coursing down from the open gash in my forehead, a bullet wound in my shoulder, Sixteen’s gun in my hand, the dining room table shattered, and his grandmother’s China scattered across the floor. He’d never believe Grace Johnson was a lie. Not until I showed him, possibly not even then. Not for many more years to come. Probably, I caught my mental shrug, if he lives.

“Grace,” Jackson said. “Please…” The phone clattered the floor, his blue eyes wide, color draining from his lips. “This isn’t you.”

Gaze locking his, I levered Sixteen’s pistol at her knee.

“Don’t,” she whispered. “Morrison will take you in, he’ll fix this.” Her voice cracked, almost a sob. For us, a destroyed limb was a death sentence. Once, we swore we’d die together. Now, she can mean it. “Thirteen, if you run then there’s no going back.”

My upper lip curled. “You don’t know me.” I had no idea which one I was talking to. “You never did.”

My finger squeezed the trigger.

Sixteen grunted, blood slipping down her lip. In the doorway, Jackson screamed.

Do it and mean it. Let it be part of their character development, regardless of if which way you intend to go. In the above example, there’s a dichotomy present between the character of Thirteen and her cover Grace Johnson. There’s some question, even for the character, about which of them they are. It sets up a beginning of growth for the character as she runs, but it also fails to answer what will be the central question in the story: who am I? Which way will I jump?

If Thirteen doesn’t kill Sixteen, if the scene answers the question at the beginning then why would you need to read the story?

Below the cut, we’ll talk about some ways to show their struggles.

-Michi

Read More

pureempath:

i —— foreword

Fairly recently I realized that a lot of writers and US citizens alike don’t really know and fully understand their rights when being arrested/interrogated.  This is mostly a writing guide but if you’re a US citizen this stuff is just useful to know.  Basically, the police won’t tell you most of your rights aside from what you know — but they don’t even explain those.  I hope this helps. 

ii —— being arrested

If you are not served with a warrant, the police can not arrest you.  They can say they have one, but unless they show it to you, you don’t have to cooperate with them.  Upon being arrested, you will be read your rights.
        “You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say           or do can be held against you in the court of law.  You           have the right to an attorney, if you can not afford one           you will be provided one without any cost to you.”
Every so often the police officers fail to say this to the suspect before the questioning session and usually that results in negative consequences for the officers involved.  What they don’t tell you is that you are allowed to have an attorney present before and during your questioning.  They also don’t tell you that what you don’t say and do can be held against you.  An example of this is, say you’re being accused of murder.  If you sit there expressionless and stoic while they’re telling you that you killed your mother its gonna seem suspicious and they can use that in their favor.  Now, in that same respect if you sit there sweating and vehemently denying it — they can use that against you as well.
Alright, they also don’t tell you that you can accidentally forfeit your ‘right to remain silent’ (fifth amendment right).  If you say “I didn’t kill my mother.” you just gave up your right to remain silent.  They will likely try to provoke you to say something like this that will make you give up this right.  That’s why you want a lawyer present during and before your questioning.

iii —— interrogation techniques

There are a lot so I’ll only be outlining a few major things.  Additionally, this guide is only applicable to lawful interrogations of arrested individuals that are US citizens and do not fall under the “terrorist" category, because military interrogations are quite a bit different.  I might touch on that later.
The room is set up strategically.  In almost every interrogation room, there is a table, two chairs, and a mirror/one way glass.  The suspect sits on one side of the table, a police officer on the other, and the interrogator stands.  The sitting police officer serves to corroborate and support the other police officer, or participate in the good cop/bad cop facade.  The one sitting will usually pretend to be more friendly and try to feed you the age old lie “if you just tell the truth it won’t be as bad”.
The sitting cop will also look for microexpressions and pay attention to body language while the standing cop will generally pace around and give off aggressive vibes to intimidate you, the suspect.
On rare occasions, you can be questioned without being served a warrant.  During these times, you have not been read your rights most likely and you do not have to cooperate.  Sometimes its in your best interest, other times its not.  Either way you don’t have to stay.  On other occasions they are allowed to detain you for up to 12 hours but that is exceptionally rare.
The police officers questioning you will try to make you trip up on your own story.  They do this mainly by trying to speed up the process so you have less time to think and process — the aggressive body language comes into play here.  If you feel threatened you’re more likely to stutter and stumble around than if you have a clear mind.
If they’re having a difficult time getting you to start talking, they’ll ask you harmless questions — questions usually about your family members, your birthday, etc.  These are always things they know already but it gets the metaphorical ball rolling.  Along with that, they can establish a baseline of what your body language is when you’re telling the truth so they know when you’re lying.

iv —— "enhanced interrogation" techniques

As far as the less lawful interrogations go, just keep in mind that all pain would have to start at a minimal level and incrementally increase in intensity to be effective.  You also have to factor in disorientation due to pain and possibly blood loss.  At a certain point in time, your subject will realize they are going to die and there is no going back and they will stop caring.  If they think it could possibly stop, you can get information out of them.  There always has to be the possibility of getting out of it alive.  Or you could also kidnap someone close to them and hurt them in front of your subject if that works.
The most commonly known about method is waterboarding, but its not the most widely used.  The mechanics are basic, actually.  Some sort of material is wrapped over the subject’s head — like a thick canvas material, or plastic — and water is poured over it.  Essentially they feel like their drowning but you are just asphyxiating them.  Its more mental torture than anything else.
Sometimes hypothermia is used, and that is basically just taking the subject’s clothing and putting them in a room about 50* F.  Then every couple of minutes the subject is doused in cold water.
A very common technique is to shake the subject and that is fairly self explanatory, I believe.  Not enough to hurt them, just enough to instill fear that you will.  An open handed slap to the face or abdomen is also used.  Punching is usually not employed by the government because it harms the prisoner, but if you’re talking about another country or a rogue operative, maybe a drug dealer — who knows.
Sometimes it is as simple as making the subject stand in one place in the same position for hours.  It causes intense strain on the muscles and is usually quite effective.

v —— end thoughts

I could have gotten a lot more in depth on a lot of this but I felt I covered it enough to give a general idea.  I do hope this helps people write these sort of things more accurately, or maybe even if they get into a scuttle with law enforcement (which I hope does not happen).  If you have any questions, comments, or anything additional that I should add, don’t hesitate to contact me.

pureempath:

i —— foreword

Fairly recently I realized that a lot of writers and US citizens alike don’t really know and fully understand their rights when being arrested/interrogated.  This is mostly a writing guide but if you’re a US citizen this stuff is just useful to know.  Basically, the police won’t tell you most of your rights aside from what you know — but they don’t even explain those.  I hope this helps. 

ii —— being arrested

If you are not served with a warrant, the police can not arrest you.  They can say they have one, but unless they show it to you, you don’t have to cooperate with them.  Upon being arrested, you will be read your rights.

        “You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say
          or do can be held against you in the court of law.  You
          have the right to an attorney, if you can not afford one
          you will be provided one without any cost to you.”

Every so often the police officers fail to say this to the suspect before the questioning session and usually that results in negative consequences for the officers involved.  What they don’t tell you is that you are allowed to have an attorney present before and during your questioning.  They also don’t tell you that what you don’t say and do can be held against you.  An example of this is, say you’re being accused of murder.  If you sit there expressionless and stoic while they’re telling you that you killed your mother its gonna seem suspicious and they can use that in their favor.  Now, in that same respect if you sit there sweating and vehemently denying it — they can use that against you as well.

Alright, they also don’t tell you that you can accidentally forfeit your ‘right to remain silent’ (fifth amendment right).  If you say “I didn’t kill my mother.” you just gave up your right to remain silent.  They will likely try to provoke you to say something like this that will make you give up this right.  That’s why you want a lawyer present during and before your questioning.

iii —— interrogation techniques

There are a lot so I’ll only be outlining a few major things.  Additionally, this guide is only applicable to lawful interrogations of arrested individuals that are US citizens and do not fall under the “terrorist" category, because military interrogations are quite a bit different.  I might touch on that later.

The room is set up strategically.  In almost every interrogation room, there is a table, two chairs, and a mirror/one way glass.  The suspect sits on one side of the table, a police officer on the other, and the interrogator stands.  The sitting police officer serves to corroborate and support the other police officer, or participate in the good cop/bad cop facade.  The one sitting will usually pretend to be more friendly and try to feed you the age old lie “if you just tell the truth it won’t be as bad”.

The sitting cop will also look for microexpressions and pay attention to body language while the standing cop will generally pace around and give off aggressive vibes to intimidate you, the suspect.

On rare occasions, you can be questioned without being served a warrant.  During these times, you have not been read your rights most likely and you do not have to cooperate.  Sometimes its in your best interest, other times its not.  Either way you don’t have to stay.  On other occasions they are allowed to detain you for up to 12 hours but that is exceptionally rare.

The police officers questioning you will try to make you trip up on your own story.  They do this mainly by trying to speed up the process so you have less time to think and process — the aggressive body language comes into play here.  If you feel threatened you’re more likely to stutter and stumble around than if you have a clear mind.

If they’re having a difficult time getting you to start talking, they’ll ask you harmless questions — questions usually about your family members, your birthday, etc.  These are always things they know already but it gets the metaphorical ball rolling.  Along with that, they can establish a baseline of what your body language is when you’re telling the truth so they know when you’re lying.

iv —— "enhanced interrogation" techniques

As far as the less lawful interrogations go, just keep in mind that all pain would have to start at a minimal level and incrementally increase in intensity to be effective.  You also have to factor in disorientation due to pain and possibly blood loss.  At a certain point in time, your subject will realize they are going to die and there is no going back and they will stop caring.  If they think it could possibly stop, you can get information out of them.  There always has to be the possibility of getting out of it alive.  Or you could also kidnap someone close to them and hurt them in front of your subject if that works.

The most commonly known about method is waterboarding, but its not the most widely used.  The mechanics are basic, actually.  Some sort of material is wrapped over the subject’s head — like a thick canvas material, or plastic — and water is poured over it.  Essentially they feel like their drowning but you are just asphyxiating them.  Its more mental torture than anything else.

Sometimes hypothermia is used, and that is basically just taking the subject’s clothing and putting them in a room about 50* F.  Then every couple of minutes the subject is doused in cold water.

A very common technique is to shake the subject and that is fairly self explanatory, I believe.  Not enough to hurt them, just enough to instill fear that you will.  An open handed slap to the face or abdomen is also used.  Punching is usually not employed by the government because it harms the prisoner, but if you’re talking about another country or a rogue operative, maybe a drug dealer — who knows.

Sometimes it is as simple as making the subject stand in one place in the same position for hours.  It causes intense strain on the muscles and is usually quite effective.

v —— end thoughts

I could have gotten a lot more in depth on a lot of this but I felt I covered it enough to give a general idea.  I do hope this helps people write these sort of things more accurately, or maybe even if they get into a scuttle with law enforcement (which I hope does not happen).  If you have any questions, comments, or anything additional that I should add, don’t hesitate to contact me.

writing-questions-answered:

When Describing a Character

DO:

  • provide enough detail to give the reader a sense of the character’s physical appearance 
  • highlight details that serve as clues to who the character is and perhaps what their life is like
  • describe clothing to establish character or when relevant to scene

DON’T:

  • go overboard with too many details or take up too much of the reader’s time describing one character
  • repetitively describe features or fixate on certain characteristics
  • describe clothing every time the character shows up unless its somehow relevant to the scene. 
  • describe minor characters’ clothing in-depth unless it’s relevant


Choose a Focal Point

When describing a character’s appearance, choose a focal point and work up or down from there. For example, you may describe them from head to toe, or from toe to head. Try not to skip around. If you’re describing their face, start with their hair and work your way down to their mouth, or start at the mouth and work your way up to their hair.


Describing Race and Ethnicity

There is a lot of debate about the right and wrong way to describe a person’s race. If you want, you can state that a person is Black, white, Hispanic, Native American, First Nations, Latino, Middle-Eastern, Asian, Pacific Islander, etc. Just remember that races are made up of different ethnic groups. Someone of Asian descent could be Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. If you’re describing a character whose ethnicity is unknown or not important to the plot, you could just say that they were Asian or Black, for example. But, the rest of the time you need to be clear about whether they are Chinese, Chinese American, Korean, etc. Also, remember that not all Black people are African-American, such as someone born in England or Haiti, for example.

You may instead choose to describe a character’s race through the color of their hair, eyes, and skin. It’s up to you which you feel most comfortable with and is most appropriate for your story. Just remember, if you describe one character’s skin color or otherwise make an issue of their race, you should describe every character’s skin color or race.


Describing Clothing

Just like with physical appearance, when describing clothing you want to choose a focal point and work up or down. Think about things like the garments they’re wearing (pants, shirt, coat) and accessories (hat, jewelry, shoes). Be sure to choose clothing which are both relevant to your character and to the time and place where your story is set. You can find out about appropriate clothing by Googling the time and place your story is set plus the word clothing:

"Clothing in Victorian England"
"Clothing in 1960s New York"
"9th century Viking clothing"

Be sure to look for web sites that aren’t providing cheap Halloween costumes. Shops providing clothes for historical reenactors are often very accurate.


Looking for Inspiration

There are many resources online for both historical and modern clothing. For historical clothing, you can look for web sites about the period, web sites for or about historical reenactors, or web pages for historical enthusiasts or museums. For modern clothing, you can simply pull up the web site of your favorite department store or clothing designer. Choose an outfit that works for your character, then learn how to describe the relevant parts.


Resources for Describing Clothing:

Describing Clothing
Describing Clothes
Writing Tips on Describing Clothes
Describing Clothes and Appearance (If You Should at All)


Resources for Garments and Accessories:

Shirts
Trousers 
Dress
Types of Dress
Shorts
Briefs
Panties
Lingerie
Bra
Swimsuit
Pajamas
Shoes
Coats and Jackets
Sweaters
Hats
Jewelry
Sunglasses
Sleeves, Necklines, Collars, and Dress Types
Scarves for Men
Scarf Buying Guide
The Ultimate Scarf Tying Guide



Historical Clothing Resources:

OMG That Dress!
Period Fabric
Amazon Dry Goods
Reconstructing History
Historic Threads
Historical Costume Inspiration
History of Costume: European Fashion Through the Ages
Women’s Fashion Through the Years
Clothing in the Ancient World
Clothing in Ancient Rome
Clothing in Biblical Times
Vintage Fashion Guild



Modern Clothing Resources:

Clothes on Pinterest
Polyvore
Fashion Dictionary
This is a Fashion Blog
What I Wore
Fashion is Endless


Physical Details Resources:

Women’s Body Shapes
Men’s Body Shapes
Face Shapes
Realistic Eye Shape Chart
Facial Hair Types
How to Describe Women’s Hair Lengths
The Ultimate Haircut Guide for Women
Men’s Haircuts (Barber Shop Style)
A Primer on Men’s Hairstyles
Hair Color
Obsidian Bookshelf Hair Color
Obsidian Bookshelf Eye Color
Skin Color Chart
Curl and Texture Chart

fictionwritingtips:

I’m often asked how to come up with ideas, so I thought I’d give you a few ways to hopefully jump-start ideas on your end. Putting yourself in certain situations can get you in a more creative mindset, so be aware of your surroundings and what’s happening around you whenever possible.

Here are a few ways to come up with creative ideas on daily basis:

Listen to the people around you

There’s no better way to generate ideas than to listen to the people around you. People say some interesting things if you stay open to it. Ideas are guaranteed to formulate if you listen to what’s happening around you.

Tune into talk radio

Talk radio will help give you some ideas regarding how people communicate with each other and how people argue about things. Think about how people would talk about things in your world and what forums would be available for discussions.

Watch your favorite movie

Try to focus on why your favorite movie is your favorite. What gets you excited about it? Once you figure out those things, you should be able to realize what you want your book to be like. Harness what motivates you.

Write a scene between two characters

Consider writing a scene between two characters you like. Use your own characters or your favorite fictional characters. Put them in a situation they wouldn’t normally be in.

Take a walk

Allowing yourself some fresh air sometimes helps you get creative. If you’re stuck in one place all day, try to get out for a little while. Changing your environment can help generate ideas.

Use Google Maps

If locations tend to inspire you, use Google Maps to zoom in on places you’re interested in. Being able to see a place you intend to write about can make a huge difference. It will also help you see things in a different way.

Search for new music

Music often helps inspire writers, so take some time to download something new. Turn on Pandora or Spotify and keep your ears open for something that inspires you.

List your favorite characters

Pinpointing exactly what makes a character interesting to you can help you build your own characters. Take some time to list a few of your favorite characters and see what they have in common. Use these ideas to structure a character of your own.

-Kris Noel

avajae:

Writability: How to Choose the Right Agent for YOU

So we’ve discussed why you need an agent (if you want to publish traditionally) and how not to get an agent. But now I want to talk about picking the right agent for you.

So here’s the thing about literary agents: the legit ones are all publishing savvy, business-minded, all around nice people who just really love books. Or at least, the ones I’ve come in contact with are. Every agent (like every person) has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, which often dictate what genres they do and don’t represent. And knowing those strengths and weaknesses is just a teensie bit important to know before you query.

That’s right. You need to research agents before you start queryingWhy? The answer’s simple, really—not every agent is the right agent for you

Some agents are editorial, some agents are not. Some agents represent a huge range of genres, some are much more focused on a couple genres and categories. Some agents have been in the business for over a decade, others are much newer to the publishing game.

I’ve already blogged about where to go to research agents (see that link above? Click it), so I’m not going to delve into that again. What I want to focus on instead, is what you need to be looking for when deciding what agents to query.

There are a couple questions you should be asking yourself while researching agents:

  • Does this agent represent my genre? This is the basic filter—the very first requirement is to make sure the agent you’re considering querying represents the genre and category your manuscript falls under. If they don’t, don’t query them. No exceptions. 

    No, it doesn’t matter if you think they might make an exception for your manuscript (they shouldn’t and they won’t). No, it doesn’t matter if you really like that agent (that doesn’t change the fact that your MS is not a genre they represent). No, it doesn’t matter if your manuscript is supposedly unlike others in its genre or category (if you think that’s the case, are you sure you know that genre as well as you think you do?)—if they don’t represent your genre, do not query them. You’ll get an insta-reject, and you’ll only be wasting your time and theirs.

    Note: if you’re not sure what genre your manuscript falls under, check out this post
  • Does this agent represent other genres I want to (or already do) write in? This is important, because you’re not just looking for representation for the manuscript you’re querying—you’re looking for representation for your whole career. Ideally, you’ll have the same agent throughout your career (though that isn’t always the case, which is okay). If your manuscript is a Historical Fantasy and you know going in that you also love writing Sci-Fi, make sure the agents you query represent both Historical Fantasies and Sci-Fi’s.

    Why? You want an agent who can potentially sell any manuscript you write, and if you write in multiple genres, you’ll want to make sure the agents you query represent all of them. 
  • Is this agent editorial? Is this important to me? As I’ve mentioned before, not all agents are editorial (meaning not all agents go through the extra process of revising and editing your work with you before going on submission). This is an extra job, and agents are not required to edit your work (remember: it’s your job to get your manuscripts as polished as possible before sending it to agents). If you know you want an agent who will help you with some of the revision and editorial process, then make sure you query agents who are editorial. (You can find this out through interviews and sites like Literary Rambles). 
  • What is this agent’s sales record? Do they have a lot of sales? A few things to remember with this one: not having a lot of sales doesn’t necessarily mean the agent is a bad agent. Some agents don’t report all of their sales, and some agents don’t have a lot of sales because they’re new agents, which is totally fine (and in that case, you’ll want to look at the sales for the agency they’re at, instead). But if an agent has been around for a couple of years, they should have some sales reported. 

    That being said, how much stock you put into the sales thing is up to you. When I was querying, I personally didn’t query anyone who didn’t list sales or their clients, but that’s just me. 
  • What is this agent’s reputation? What is the reputation of their agency like? Both of these are important to consider when researching agents. If the agent is established, what is their reputation like? If they’re new agents what is the reputation of their agency? (Note: it’s important to check on agency reputation for established agents, too). Check interviews, forums like Absolute Write Water Cooler and sites like Preditors & Editors as well as the aforementioned Literary Rambles to learn about agent and agency reputation.
  • Does this agent seem like someone I would work well with? Granted, this is a little more difficult to determine online, but if the agent has a Twitter, follow them long before you start querying. Also, take the time to read every interview you can find—both of these sources can give you insights into the agent’s personality and what their work process is like. There are a couple agents, for example, that I decided I wouldn’t query based off things they said or the way they behaved on Twitter—after all, if your personalities clash, it’s going to make the relationship between you and you future agent more difficult. 


Finally, two rules to remember while querying:

  1. Thou shalt not query every agent known to man. Use the criteria above to narrow down your list to agents that would work well for you and your manuscript. Consider every agent you query carefully. Think, if they offered representation, would I accept? If your answer is “no” then there’s little point in querying—you’re just wasting everyone’s time.

  2. A bad agent is worse than no agent. I’ve often heard of writers jumping to accept the first offer the get, just because they finally get an offer of representation. I understand this temptation, but the fact is, a bad agent will not help your career. Make sure you do plenty of research on every agent you query, and even more research on every agent who reads your full, and even more research on every agent who offers representation. Know what you’re getting into ahead of time to avoid unfortunate circumstances later on down the road. 


What tips do you have for choosing the right agent?

writing-questions-answered:

"I write because, if I don’t, my characters will murder me in my sleep."
— Astrid ‘Artistikem’ Cruz (via maxkirin)