1. liegh42 said: I have a character that slowly (but surely) goes insane throughout the novel. She starts off a little insane, being able to see ghosts and all, but at the end of it she goes completely nuts and ends up killer her father (well, that's the plan at least). How can I still make this character relatable? Her situation is no the most common (with some people it is I guess...) so I imagine it's hard to make people like her. Have any tips?

    Firstly, you have so many negative mental illness tropes in this that I’m not sure where to start.

    I don’t know what you mean by “insane”. It’s not a medical term, and though it is a legal term, it doesn’t refer to what I assume you mean to say, which is delusional or having hallucinations (which would probably be termed psychotic.

    By saying she is able to see ghosts, you are implying that ghosts are real and that she has the ability to see them. Which is a fine premise for a story. I have no issue with that. The thing is, though, that if she has the ability to see ghosts which do exist, she is not hallucinating, so I don’t know how she’s insane. And if she is hallucinating the ghosts, then she can’t see ghosts, she hallucinates, in which cases she likely has either a brain tumor or any in a set of mental illnesses that has hallucinations as one of its symptoms.

    Again, I don’t know what you mean by “goes completely nuts.” Does she have a psychotic break? Does she have a nervous breakdown? Does she begin to exhibiting erratic decision-making processes? Does she begin to have delusions? Does she begin to experience the symptoms of other mental illnesses (i.e. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.)? Does she lose touch with reality, as with psychosis? Does she begin to have more than just audio-visual hallucinations the ghosts (if they have hallucinations)? If the ghosts aren’t hallucinations, what do they have to do with the psychotic break?

    Why does she kill her father? Presumably she doesn’t wake up one day and decide that she wants to kill him for no apparent reason. Did she exhibit prior violence? Is it because she loses touch with reality and believes that he is somebody else or that she isn’t killing him? Does she want to kill him? If so, why?

    I might be being harsh, but the problem is that vague and incorrect ideas about mental illness are a major reason for the incredible stigma against people will mental illnesses. Precision is important, and so is the acknowledgement and understand that mental illness does not equal violence. Being mentally ill does not necessarily make a person violent, and most crimes committed by the mentally ill are found to be unrelated to their illness.

  2. Anonymous said: In my story, Mages are extremely rare and most are in service of some kind of nobility. I'd like to portray how the nobles sort of treat their Mages like they're property, like they're pretty trophies instead of people. Any tips?

    Think about what the Mages can do and how they are used. Are they literally party tricks, where their magic can be used to make pretty displays and decorate rooms? Are they used militarily, where they have large-scale combat-based magical abilities? Are they used in gladiator-esque fights, where they have small-scale combat-based magical abilities? They used as a way to control other nobles? Are they used as sexual slaves? Is it some combination?

    Think about how the nobles control them. Especially because the nobles would, by definition, not be mages, so they shouldn’t have any sort of magical control over the mages, unless a mage/mages provided such means of control. There could be slave laws or laws for the “protection” of mages that put them in the custody of nobles. You just need to remember the fact that people virtually never willingly become somebody else’s property, and especially because the mages should have powers that the nobles don’t, there would probably need to be a non-directly-physical way for the nobles to control them.

    Think about what happens to Mages’ children. Are they in the service from birth (during which time they could be brainwashed, which would explain how the nobles control them)? Do they receive training? Are they raised by their parents?

    Decide if there are Mages who aren’t under nobles’ control. These could be teachers, doctors, or anyone who escaped. If there are these escaped mages, why do they allow for the subjugation of their brethren? Also how are controlled versus uncontrolled mages treated by the general population? By the nobles?

    Figure out what the laws are regarding Mages. If they are actually property, then killing them wouldn’t be murder. What would happen if they kill a fellow Mage? A non-Mage? If they escape? What are the codified and non-codified punishment rules? They may also have curfews, restricted areas, or other related laws.

    Think about what decides status level/value. As with any trophy, it acts as a status symbol, which means that some are going to be worth more/confer greater status than others. Is it based on magical ability? If so, how is that measured/determined? Is it based on physical attractiveness? Sexual ability? Pain tolerance? Obedience?

    Be careful of the benevolent slave-owner trope. While obviously the nobles are people, the ones who own mages are essentially slave-owners. You need to be really careful about how your portray it so as not to make it seem as though they are somehow doing the mages a favor by enslaving them. They don’t all have to be portrayed as being sadistic or as abusing the mages, but you just generally need to be careful.

    Also check out Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop (which I suggest with the caveat of content warnings for virtually everything you can think of—violence, abuse, etc.)

  3. Anonymous said: Sorry if you're swamped with asks, but I've been sort of stuck with this one character. I've made him afraid of taking off his gloves and I was thinking probably because of germs, but I don't know what would cause that sort of fear? Any ideas?

    It sounds like you’re talking about Mysophobia (fear of germs) or Nosophobia (fear of disease), though it could also be the related but not entirely synonymous hypochondria, which is technically a type of anxiety rather than a phobia. . 

  4. Anyone know any feminine and gender neutral equivalents to “sire” (as in a way to address a sovereign)?

  5. thelightsofmischief said: With cheering up purposes, a non-writing question: what's your favorite song ever? :D Have a nice day!

    My favorite song. Hmm….

    I go through song/genre phases so I’m not very good at picking my favorite song ever. I really like “Thank Goodness” from Wicked. I also really like “How Crazy” and “Rolling Star” by Yui.

    I’ll tag any non-writing answers with “answering personal things” in case you don’t want to read them.

  6. I have no more classes today but am too lazy (and too busy typing up all of my Japanese vocab from the last 14 chapters) to answer real writing questions right now (sorry about that, but the way) so you should ask me non-writing questions. 

  7. I am reading Harry Potter metas again, and I’ve decided I wish I could see two things:

    1. The series rewritten by someone else. I love JKR’s stories, but there have been so many amazing meta and fanon things since then, and I would want to see where someone else given, say, all of the information we have now about what happened up to Voldemort’s attack on Harry, would go with it.

    2. An agreed upon fanon. I know that that essentially never happens, but it would be really cool to have one agreed-upon extended canon like with the Star Wars extended universe.

    Basically, I wish there was more Harry Potter.

  8. Anonymous said: Hi! I am in love with your advice! Would you be able to point out some helpful websites or ideas on how to write children and teenagers having to mandatorily serve in the army? Thank you so much!

    First, in modern times, that is uber illegal. Like, war crimes illegal. If they are 15-18, it’s more complicated, but if they’re under 15 (which I assume “children and teenagers” falls under), it’s really illegal.

    There are (in modern times) essentially three kinds of child soldiers (which is a generic term, not one that just means soldiers who are under the age of 13). I’m going to term them the British type, the Bolivian type, and the Central African Republic type. Know that all of those are titles only given because they are countries where this happens, not that they are necessarily in any way illustrative of the region or the people in them.

    In the British type (which happens in the UK, Australia, Canada, USA, India, and a number of other countries), people can join the army when they’re younger than eighteen (but older than fifteen), but they can’t serve in combat until they are eighteen. Some countries have specific exemptions that allow for under-eighteen service in cases where evacuation isn’t possible (like Australia) but otherwise do not allow for service of anyone under the age of eighteen.

    In the Bolivian type (which happens in Bolivia, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Burma/Myanmar and a number of other countries), the governmental army has soldiers who are under eighteen (and often under fifteen) who fight in combat. This often ends up being mandatory and is really looked down upon by the international community.

    In the Central African Republic type (which happens in the Central African Republic, Burma/Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Syria, Chechnya, and a number of other countries), non-governmental military or paramilitary forces have children in them. In these cases it is especially common for the groups to forcibly take the children, who are often then addicted to drugs so they will be more willing and able to commit atrocities. Girls who are taken in—something which is less common but does happen—are commonly sexually assaulted.

    I’m assuming you’re talking about the Bolivian and Central African Republic types, because the British type is generally relatively benign and most people don’t have an issue with it. You also mentioned mandatory service. There are essentially two ways that you can go about having mandatory military service. The first is like the draft in the US, where it is the law. The second, which works especially with children, is to abduct people and force them to become soldiers. This is especially common in the Central African Republic type, but it also happens in the Bolivian type. This happened a number of times in Cold War-era conflicts like in El Salvador.

    Here are a few things to think about:

    • Machine guns are probably the best things (best in regards to efficacy rather than morality) for child soldiers, because they’re not that heavy and they don’t require a ton of training to hit what you’re aiming at.
    • It’s going to be really difficult especially for young children to do physical tasks that a normal military person in somewhere like the United States would do.
    • Especially if this is a large-scale thing, this is going to really screw up a generation (or more). You have children growing up killing people, and so their view of morality would be…off at best. Killing would be their normal.
    • It’s going to be pretty hard to get a child to go into a war zone without any sort of enticement. Drugs are often a good way to do this, especially if you don’t care all that much about whether or not the children survive.
    • You need to think about whether fighting will be required for only boys or for both boys and girls.
    • You need to figure out the command structure. Are children leading other children, and if not, does the hierarchy stagnate from whenever they are brought in (at 7, 11, 15, whenever) until they reach whatever you count as being an adult? If so, why does anyone trust their decision-making capabilities?
    • There are positions in the military other than fighting. They can also be scouts, medics, cooks, intelligence analysts, or numerous other things.

  9. Anonymous said: So I have this romantic subplot in my fantasy story between two best friends who've travelled together for like six years. I really want the romantic part to start in the story, but I somehow feel like it should've happened before, because they've been together for so long. I really don't know how to make it flow from friendship to romance without it becoming too fanfic-y or mushy. (1/2)

    And it’s especially hard because they’re not ones to actually say “I’m in love with you” or something to that extent. I also don’t want to make it that big a deal because it’s not what the story is about although [A]’s love for [B] really is a fundamental part of [A]’s motivation for doing what he does, and of [A] overcoming mind-alteration. Any tips?

    There are essentially two directions to go with this. The first one is where they (or at least one of them) are in love before the story starts but that they don’t admit it to each other until after the story starts. The second one is that the feelings start after the story starts.

    From your description, the first option makes more sense, because I’m having a hard time imagining feelings spontaneously appearing after six years, but anything is possible. They could have just not realized it before, especially if they lived only with each other, because they didn’t have any other frame of reference. Something would have to shake them out of the status quo, such as an illness, the death of someone else, the appearance of someone who wants to sleep with one of them and/or start a relationship with them, or a gazillion other things. One of these things could also inspire one of them to mention their feelings for the other one.

    Another option, given your description, is that the love is one-sided. [A] could love [B] and could be fine with the fact that [B] doesn’t love him back. [B] could later end up loving [A] back, if you want to go in that route.

    The transition should probably be awkward at first. Especially if they grew up together, thinking about each other sexually and being able to act on it might be really weird. They’ll probably screw up at first because they’re not sure whether they’re supposed to act differently when they’re in a relationship as opposed to just being friends. It might get worse before it gets better.

  10. Anonymous said: English is not my first language, but I always do my writting research in english, and when I see some posts I get really confused because I don't have any idea about acronyms like OC, POC, HEA, etc... I do know a few, but most of them not. Have you got any list? It would be very helpful...

    thecharactercomma:

    Sure, no problem! Some of the most common ones include:

    AU = Alternate universe

    GSD = gender and sexual diversity

    LGBT+ = lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender

    LI = love interest

    MC = main character

    OC = original character

    OOC = out of character (thanks, ehuru!)

    POC = Person of Color

    WIP = work in progress

    WOC = Woman of Color

    I’ve actually never heard of HEA, but from looking online it might stand for happily ever after! I probably missed a few but those are the common ones I can think of.

    Any others I’m missing, followers?

    —E

    HEA is Happily Ever After, which is often used in contrast for HFN, which is Happily for Now. They’re terms primarily for romance novels, where HEA stories imply that the character will be together happily forever a la the end of Disney fairy tales. HFN stories imply that, while the characters are happy at the end of the story, they won’t be happy forever, either because of differences that haven’t been reconciled or because of some deadline that hasn’t been resolved yet (one is ill, one has to leave soon, etc.)