Tips from the crit group II

More partial advice from a hive mind quarreling with itself.

In a dodgy town, would a dodgy business have a big sign? A literal question which nevertheless raises questions of nuance within extreme societies. Could a town which embraces violence nevertheless frown on drug use? Does the Biggest Cheese blatantly advertise, or go subtle and upmarket?

Neologisms. Explain them the second time you use them, to create an air of mystery. Also, ones that look like typos will just keep grating on the reader’s nerves. My hero, Teh, agrees with that.

Extended metaphors are cool but need to be consistent and not overlap too much. BONUS GENRE POINT: Particularly if they’re actually a function of a collective hallucination.

A protagonist’s lack of interest may be entirely in character, but it blocks the view of the reader trying to see the world.

Make sure you know the humans are human. I can’t remember what that meant, or who ‘you’ was in the sentence.

Losing the bar fight would be better. Sympathy is a powerful connection between reader and character, and nobody likes an invincible smart-arse.

A person’s greatest strength is also often their key weakness. I don’t think this is actually true – but then, I don’t have any weaknesses. I’m an invincible smart-arse.

Someone mentioned a screenwriting standard technique – write your characters out and draw lines to show their connections. Any characters with only one line attaching them to the rest gets cut. (I’d be happy to give credit for this nifty technique, but can’t find the origin.)
Presumably, instead of being cut, that lonesome character could be further entangled. (In fact, I tend to merge outlying characters together when editing; this increases their connections to the main plot, does weird things to their motivations, and creates personalities with real psychological incoherence depth.)

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