#writing tips
You Guys are Too Hard on Yourselves
Sometimes after I post a piece of advice or a suggestion for improving your craft, I see a lot of you guys in the reblogs talking about how you wish you could be a good writer and take said advice, or that you feel like a failure for not already doing it.
Now listen here, look me in the eyes, you are doing enough.
The last thing I want is to discourage anyone from writing, so I need you to internalize this. You are doing enough as a writer. Yes even if you haven’t written in a while, even if you’ve never been published, or have been rejected a million times, or have never finished a draft. You guys are enough for even trying, and I need you to start recognizing yourselves and being proud of the work you do and/or the ideas you have.
At the very least, start practicing not getting down on yourselves when you hear advice or read someone else’s work. You will only ever get better, don’t start doubting yourself now.
Let’s do a little exercise. Reblog this with three things you think you are totally nailing as a writer, I’ll go first:
                I have a keen sense of pacing.
                I create interesting dynamics between complex characters.
                My ideas are weird and fun and reflect me as a person.
Now go forth with positivity!
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writingdotcoffee · 2 days
Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that is is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.
E. L. Doctorow
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howtofightwrite · 3 days
Can you talk more about height and combat? Like for example a taller woman fighting a shorter man? I usually see the opposite (and the woman having all of the disadvantages) but how would it look the other way around? Assuming neither is skinny.
In most circumstances, height is less important than a lower center of gravity. Height can be useful in some situations, such as being able to see over obstructing obstacles. Reach is very useful, though overall height results in a negligible increase to reach.
So, generally speaking, any object with a lower center of gravity will be more stable than one with a higher center of gravity. Obviously, when we're talking about inanimate objects, you can get some weird examples where this isn't the case, but when you're talking about your normal, roughly humanoid object, a lower center of gravity will be more stable than a higher one.
This leads into another general statement that won't be true in every possible case, but is important to be aware of, if someone says that women have, “all of the disadvantages,” in a match-up, they don't know what they're talking about. The low hanging fruit is that women are more resistant to exertion and exhaustion than men, and that will become important in a prolonged fight. As mentioned earlier, they have a lower center of gravity (in most cases), meaning that they'll be more stable than a male foe.
If you've ever watched Judo videos of a five-foot-nothing girl casually tossing a massive guy around, what you're seeing is a practical consequence of that lower center of gravity. This is just a practical application of basic physics. If your center of gravity is below your opponent's it is far easier to leverage them off the ground and deposit them in a tangled pile of limbs at the location of your choosing.
Beyond that, while getting into ground fighting can be very dangerous for the smaller fighter (regardless of their sex), being able to put your foe on the ground before getting dragged down yourself, does open the door to some options for ending the fight, if you have the stomach for it.
A taller woman versus a shorter man will narrow the difference between their respective centers of gravity, and may make it possible for the man to get his center of gravity lower than his foe, but it depends on the relative height difference, and you'd be looking at some pretty extreme differences before this starts to become a realistic possibility.
In the grand scheme of things, the total amount of mass is less important than where that mass is located. This is why ground fighting, that is to say, when both combatants have already fallen over, and are continuing to fight without getting back on their feet, can be very hazardous. At that point, both participants are about as stable as they'll ever be, and sheer volume of mass can be used effectively. When you're standing, not so much. Also, yes, there is a window in the transition to ground fighting where one combatant has gone down, and does have a stability advantage. Some martial arts (again, Judo comes to mind) specifically train to act in this window. You're not going to fall over again, so you may as well take the opportunity to maneuver and drag your foe down, with an eye for making their trip to the ground less pleasant than yours.
Something we've said, many, many, times is that reach is very important, and this is true. So, it would follow that a shorter person would have less reach, which is also true. On average, your arm-span should be roughly equivalent to your height. So, if you're 6ft, you should have a 6ft armspan. If you're 5ft8in, you should have a 5'8” arm span. (There's some slight variation based on gender here, which has more to do with the length of your individual arms. The average arm length for an adult male is ~14.5”, while the average arm length for an adult female is ~13.5”, even though the average height difference is ~5”.) However, in most combat situations, when we're talking about the importance of reach, we're talking about a difference measured in multiple feet. Someone armed with a 4” dagger is going to have a difficult time countering someone armed with a 60” greatsword, for example. However, when you're talking about a difference in a few inches, that's not nearly as decisive. Unless your shorter character is dramatically shorter, they shouldn't have any difficulty reaching their opponent, so while reach is an exceptionally important consideration in armed combat, gender isn't likely to be an important factor when calculating overall reach.
The big thing to understand about height, and this is very true when looking at authors interpreting its importance in writing, is the factor of intimidation. A taller person will generally feel more intimidating up front, and a lot of visual narratives use this as a cue to show that a character is at a disadvantage. Adventure fiction, like Indiana Jones for example, uses this to great effect and so do most martial arts action movies. When someone is talking about the importance of size, that's usually what they're referencing. When you see a massive person walking on screen or popping up in your favorite anime, your brain mentally checks itself and goes, “oh. Oh no.” This, of course, has nothing to do with reality, it's just our brains interpreting danger.
We say this a lot on the blog, but really, you learn to fight with the body you have. Men and women fight the way they're trained to fight, so they don't have intrinsically gendered fighting styles after release into the real world. The concept of gendered fighting styles really comes from anime and other fighting games or as a reaction against socially constructed systems such as 'fight like a girl!'
If you ask Michi, who grew up doing martial arts, what it looks like when a tall woman fights a short guy, her reaction is to shrug and say, “it looks like two people fighting.” There just isn't a discernible difference outside of personal, stylistic preferences.
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theplottery · 2 days
Quick hack to make dialogue immediately more interesting
Here’s my best quick hack to fix your dialogue if you feel it’s falling flat, or you just don’t think the scene is interesting enough.
Does your dialogue fall flat? Here’s a quick hack to fix it!
Use your setting as opposition.
You can do this in 3 ways:
📌 Location
Whatever the nature of the conversation your characters are meant to have, find the worst possible location for them to have it in.
Is it at a funeral, in a crowded loud room, or while one of them is in the bathtub?
🤔 Situation
Similarly to the previous one, think about what the most ridiculous, awkward, or plain uncomfortable situation you can put your characters into, while forcing them to lead the conversation.
Is it during a fight, a robbery, a car breakdown?
👧 Characters
I’m talking about extras and side-characters! Use their presence to put a strain on the conversation your main characters are supposed to be having.
Do they interrupt your characters, do they listen in, do they provide unsolicited advice?
Dialogue becomes much more interesting if you put some kind of strain on how much your characters can say, or give them something to be wary of.
Want fully customizable templates for your writing? Character sheets, outlines, chapter treatments, world-building, questionnaires and more?
Grab our 3 E-books for writers! They each come with 40 pages of easy theory and resources.
The Plotter’s Almanac
The Character Bible
The World Builder’s Chronicle
Grab it through the [link here] or below!
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novlr · 3 days
do you have any tips on how to get better at showing, not telling when it comes to descriptions in stories? i really struggle with describing characters without blatantly telling you what their features are especially. i always find myself reverting back to telling without realising it. thanks!!
Our post in the Reading Room today is all about showing, not telling, and includes these great writing exercises to help you improve your skills!
Writing exercises to show, not tell
Picture this!
Using a random picture (it can be anything from a stock photo, your favourite painting, or a book cover you like), describe what it shows without explicitly stating what’s depicted.
This isn’t an easy task, but it’s a great challenge to get you to start describing things without stating the obvious. It’s a good way to practice giving readers a sense of things and really putting your imagination through its paces.
Tumblr media
With a regal bearing and a piercing green gaze, she stands before the void in feline judgement.
Sensory immersion
Choose a familiar setting, like a coffee shop, a park, or a favourite restaurant. Spend a few minutes observing your surroundings, paying close attention to the sensory details, then write a descriptive passage that never mentions exactly where you are.
Focus on sensory details and illustrate what is happening around you. Share this passage with someone who is also familiar with the place and see if they can tell where you’re writing about from description alone.
All about action
Take a character from one of your stories or create a new one. Write a scene where the character experiences a strong emotion, such as joy, anger, or fear. Without explicitly stating the emotion, write around it using action only.
You can use body language, facial expressions, and gestures but avoid using anything (synonyms, for example) that will give away the emotion. Show it to a trusted writing buddy and see if they can guess the emotion you’re trying to convey.
Talk it out
Write an exchange between two characters where they are having an emotionally charged moment. You can use a character you’ve created, or use two characters from a favourite book or TV show that you know well. As long as you have a good sense for who they are and their back story.
The exercise is to avoid directly stating the emotion each character is experiencing; instead, use tone of voice and word choice to illustrate their emotional state and convey their thoughts and emotions indirectly.
Narrate your day
This one is super fun, but be warned, if you do it in public, people will think you’re a little odd. I’ve done it before, and it resulted in some hilarious real-world interactions, but just be prepared. Some of you might prefer to only do this one when you’re alone.
The task for this is to narrate everything you do for a day. Using the recorder on your phone, dictate your actions, your thoughts, and your feelings. Going for a walk? Talk about where you’re going, what is around you, how things feel under your feet, and what the weather is like. What other things are you thinking about on the walk? How are you feeling? Not just in the moment, but what is going on in the back of your mind?
At the end of the day, listen back to everything you’ve narrated. Take note of what sticks out. When I did this exercise, I found that the emotions I thought I might be feeling in any given moment were often not the ones that I was actually feeling. For instance, I’d spoken with my family earlier in the day, and there was a sense of homesickness that wormed its way into every other moment of the day, from my interactions with others to my mood before bed.
An exercise like this can really help show you how to use subtext to show, not tell.
Remember to approach these exercises with an open mind and a willingness to experiment. The goal is to practice and refine your ability to show rather than tell, not to generate a world-class piece of prose that you’d immediately want to include in your next project.
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20 physical intimacy prompts
1. Lingering touch that sends shivers.
2. Whispering sweet nothings.
3. Tracing lips with a finger.
4. Dancing closely, bodies pressed.
5. Gentle caresses along the back.
6. Passionate, desire-filled kiss.
7. Slow undressing, savoring.
8. Exploring bodies with light touches.
9. Intertwining fingers, deep connection.
10. Nuzzling against necks, warmth.
11. Sensuous massage, fostering intimacy.
12. Gazing into eyes, unspoken desires.
13. Running fingers through hair.
14. Warm, intimate embrace.
15. Teasing, nibbling on earlobes.
16. Holding hands, silent reassurance.
17. Gentle exploration, awakening pleasure.
18. Cuddling close under a blanket.
19. Forehead kisses, love and tenderness.
20. Passionate, synchronized bodies.
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frownyalfred · 2 days
tips on writing good smut? I really panic over it and sometimes it's the bane of my fucking existence
I’m sorry anon! I think my first tip would absolutely be that you don’t need to write smut — and you don’t need to stress over not writing it either. It’s perfectly valid to skip it, and many authors do!
If you do choose to write smut, write something that you enjoy. Are you excited by the idea? Does it turn you on a little or give you chills? That’s a good sign!
I am absolutely not advocating for you to do something you’re uncomfortable with, but this is one area of writing where the advice “write what you know” applies a lot. At least for me, it does.
BUT. Some authors are asexual/aromantic, virgins or inexperienced, and still write the best goddamned smut ever. I think at the end of the day it really is about how you connect the reader to the desires of the scene and storyline.
As always, if you want to get better at writing, consume fics/fiction and filter out what you like. Ask yourself why you liked it. Consider how you can employ those same techniques (pacing, character asides, etc) into your own writing.
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fantasyfillsmysoul · 3 days
Structural Editing
What is a structural editor (SE): A SE will consider your manuscript as a whole and help you work towards improving your novel for the sake of the reader. SE are the connection between what the readers need, what the publisher requires, and what the author hopes for their story. Developmental editing and structural editing often cross into one another and focus on the same goals/objectives.
When to get a SE: This is usually the first stage of editing. They need the full manuscript in order to properly assess your story and all the elements within. If you’ve finished your manuscript, and you find the story still doesn’t seem quite as professional as some published books, this is the place to start.
Benefits of having a SE: SE are amazing at assessing a story as a whole and determining how to shift your story to meet expectation of publishers and readers. They help set you in the right track to get your novel published and share your story with your readers.
What they do for you:
Issues with plot
pacing issues
character, setting or theme issues
writing style issues
organize or reorganize paragraphs and chapters to help make your story comprehensive
considers audience, purpose and medium of publishing to help structure your story better
help you work on premise, point of view, and voice
work through scenes to trim the unnecessary details, and expand on some areas to improve comprehension
work on dialogue
consider the flow of the story
What they won’t do for you:
Grammar, spelling and punctuation.
working line by line to clarify meaning
work in formatting or typesetting for the manuscript
When choosing an editor, be sure to be clear as to what you want from them, and what services they can offer you. No two editors are the same. Some may offer more services while others may specialize in more specific ways. Typically, you can ask for a sample of their work to determine if you will match with your editor, or if they’re not the right fit for you.
If you found this helpful, like, comment, share, and follow for more!
Happy Writing!
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nikasholistic · 20 hours
Write whatever you want. Writing is all about self expression. Don’t stifle your creativity. Your writing is good enough so have fun with it.
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Hello! A quick thank you for your many tips on writing—they’re so helpful and you have so much experience that it’s crazy! Thank you so much!
Onto my question (apologies if it’s a re-ask): how would I make a scene haunting, creepy or sinister? For context, I’m dabbling in writing southern gothic, and in my scene, the MC finds the deuteragonist curled up in a cemetery as a ghost (their body was stolen from them some hours ago). I want the scene to feel creepy and haunting to readers to immerse them a bit into the world and to fit the mood of the moment, as the characters are at their lowest and, y‘know, someone’s body was just stolen, leaving their spirit detached.
How to Make a Scene Haunting, Creepy or Sinister
Thanks for your kind words! ♥
There are two keys to giving your scene the haunting, creepy impact you want it to have:
1 - Established Context - If at all possible (if this scene isn't the very beginning of the story), it helps to build context ahead of time in any way you can. Context for who these people are, why it matters that the MC finds the deuteragonist curled up in the cemetery, the possibilities for what might have happened to them, what was/could be lost and what can still be gained (stakes), etc. Again, if this scene is your opener, you won't be able to establish this stuff ahead of time, but you can hint at some of it as the event is unfolding. You can drop hints and information about who these people are, what's happening, why it matters, what's at stake, etc.
2 - Establishing the Mood - Cemeteries can actually be quite beautiful places... moss covered stone, golden sunlight glittering through verdant tree branches, whispering wind gently kissing fragrant grasses and colorful flowers as birds chirp overhead. What's happened here is I've used sensory details to create a different mood from the one you're imagining... this is a place of beauty and serenity, filled with lovely sights (moss, glittering sunlight, greenery, flowers), sounds (birds chirping, wind whispering), scents (fragrant grasses), etc. But you can do the opposite, too. Crumbling, moss-covered stone, pale moonlight filtering through bare tree limbs, howling wind, the scent of dead grass and decaying flowers, the mournful cry of a distant bird... See how the mood changes completely? The key is to paint a picture using sensory details... what can be seen, heard, smelled, and (if applicable) felt or tasted? Also, don't forget as part of feel/felt to consider emotional details, as in what the characters are feeling on an emotional level as this scene unfolds around them.
These posts go a little further into that kind of imagery, and also how you can still create creepy imagery without the help of nighttime.
Horror by Darkness Horror by Daylight Adding Emotional Details to a Horror/Tragedy Scene
Have fun with your story!
I’ve been writing seriously for over 30 years and love to share what I’ve learned. Have a writing question? My inbox is always open!
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iloveyou-writers · 3 days
The previous anon here. To answer your question, both.
(in response to this ask)
Writers: When writers hate their own writing, don't vibe with it, whatever, I'd recommend appreciating where you are as a writer RIGHT NOW. Even if you don't necessarily like the writing itself, remember that creativity is a learning curve, just like anything else. Without "sucking" for a while, you'll never get to where you'll be happy with it. So appreciate where you are now as a lesson for where you want to go.
Read writers that write similarly to how you want to and dissect what they do differently than what you do. Learn the ways that you wish to write. Emulate these things and see if they feel right to you. Sometimes the grass looks greener on the other side, but once you start trying to do something a certain way, you realize it isn't everything you cracked it up to be.
Try doing things how you think you'll like it. Explore. Express. Expand. Eventually, you'll find something you like. But getting there will take time, so learn to be content with where you are while exploring how to further your horizons. As the saying goes, "it's the journey that counts, not the destination." Learn to appreciate the now even when you're not where you want to be.
Readers: When readers are the ones that don't appreciate your writing, ignore them. If you love your writing but your readers are hating on your writing, unless they're making points you genuinely believe will improve your story, ignore it. You don't have to listen to every voice that talks about your writing. In the end, it's your thoughts and your opinions of your writing that matter. Yes, it is so much harder to do than I make it seem, but it's so much healthier than obsessing over making your story into something everyone will like.
Just remember not everyone will like your writing. It's simply impossible to appease everyone, so appease yourself. Make characters you love (or love to hate). Make plots that interest and fascinate you. Make worlds that you want to delve deeper and deeper into.
Your passion will eventually catch up with your readers and ignite a blazing fire withing them - you will find an audience that appreciates your writing. Yes, it'll take time but trust me, it's worth it. <3
Good luck, my friend. 🥰
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How do i know when to stop writing a story?
This one is tough... Writing is so personal, and I want to tell you to never give up on a story, even when it seems impossible or too difficult to finish.
I think you should only ever stop writing a story when you fall out of love with it--when you genuinely don't want to finish it. You should stop writing a story if even if you could magic a finished draft into your hands you wouldn't. I guess I'm saying, stop writing it when you stop caring about it.
(But keep it still, in case you want to come back to it again someday)
I stopped writing a story a couple years ago because I had put at least four years into it and I just couldn't seem to get it quite right. I had rewritten it six times, plotted it four, redid the characters from new three. I thought I had just worked it over too many times--it had become so convoluted and beyond me that I could never fix it.
I tried to start a new project and finished one draft, and my old one still haunted me. I couldn't find the love for this new project that I had for the old one.
I had to go back to it--and in doing so, I found that all those problems I had thought so insurmountable were actually not as big anymore. I came back to it with fresh eyes and rediscovered its worth, and now I'm back at it again, working on a seventh draft, and this time I've got more writing friends to help me through it.
Consider what the problem really is with your story. If it's too difficult to figure out, you may just need some extra pairs of eyes or writers to bounce ideas off of. If you don't think it's good enough, try leaving it and coming back to it--writing is just having confidence, have faith in your ability! If you've fallen out of love with it and can't stand to write another word because you're really bored with the idea--maybe only then should you leave it.
But even if a story is calling to be abandoned, please at least keep it. There's no such thing as words unworthy of being written.
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writingdotcoffee · 1 day
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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perpetual-stories · 3 days
idk if this is just me but, how do you make your works more...wordy? like you know how certain pieces of literature has a beautiful way of explaining things like love, hurt, remorse, etc. do I really need to pull out a dictionary to reach this?
Advice Incoming
Hi! Thank you for sending in your question and apologies for the delay!
I would say, don’t worry about this till you’ve at least finished your first draft! I always say the first draft is to write down your ideas and make sure they are coherent enough. Once you’ve completed the first draft you can go over and elaborate on your sentences.
As far as how to create eloquent phrasings and sentences; I think it just comes with practice and definitely having a broad vocabulary range, but even then, it’s not always the greatest to add flourish and pizzaz to your writing if it’s not necessarily or hard to understand.
I’ve seen some writers try and be a bit over the top with their their phrasing to the point where I don’t understand what it is they are trying to say anymore. I call this frou-frou writing or purple prose, as some call it.
Sometimes less is more!
But if you do want to write beautiful prose, you should
a). practice! Practice makes perfect as I always say.
b). keep a dictionary or thesaurus near by, as it will definitely help!
c). don’t overstress. If you can’t find the right word or phrasing you want that’s okay! Sometimes saying a simple, “I love you” is far more effective than, “I will trudge and storm through the ends of the earth and pull the seas apart and lower the stars so that everyday when you see the…” blah, I don’t even know what I was trying to say but it was supposed to mean, “I love you.”
d). workshop you’re writing. It’s best to get feedback from peers and they can provide advice or let you know exactly what you need or need to adjust.
I just hope in the end you’re having fun and having the right amount of stress for your story!
I hope this helps and answers your question!
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theplottery · 1 day
How to write a character arc
If you’re new to writing, you might wonder what an arc is and how you’re supposed to write one. Here’s a really simple easy breakdown of character arcs and what you should think about when creating one!
An arc is a character journey from the first page to the last, and it implies that the character in question goes through some type of change!
I like to always divide my book cast into arc characters and purpose characters:
Arcs - Main characters
Purpose - Side characters
To write a character arc, your character must have internal conflict, which usually comes from:
a flaw
a misbelief
a tragic past event
Everything in your story should then work to challenge that character’s internal conflict, and by the end of the story, you’ll want to resolve it.
Whether you resolve it positively or negatively is up to you, but there needs to be some type of development or change in their belief.
Don’t forget backstory!
Whatever flaw or misbelief you decide your character will deal with in your story must come from somewhere. It must have a solid reason to exist that’s buried in your character’s past, otherwise no amount of flaws are going to make their arc interesting to read.
You don’t need a ton of flaws for your arc characters. One main flaw/misbelief is enough, but you’ve got to know its purpose, and where it comes from!
Want fully customizable templates for your writing? Character sheets, outlines, chapter treatments, world-building, questionnaires and more?
Grab our 3 E-books for writers! They each come with 40 pages of easy theory and resources.
The Plotter’s Almanac
The Character Bible
The World Builder’s Chronicle
Grab it through the [link here] or below!
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emeryleewho · 2 months
I used to work for a trade book reviewer where I got paid to review people's books, and one of the rules of that review company is one that I think is just super useful to media analysis as a whole, and that is, we were told never to critique media for what it didn't do but only for what it did.
So, for instance, I couldn't say "this book didn't give its characters strong agency or goals". I instead had to say, "the characters in this book acted in ways that often felt misaligned with their characterization as if they were being pulled by the plot."
I think this is really important because a lot of "critiques" people give, if subverted to address what the book does instead of what it doesn't do, actually read pretty nonsensical. For instance, "none of the characters were unique" becomes "all of the characters read like other characters that exist in other media", which like... okay? That's not really a critique. It's just how fiction works. Or "none of the characters were likeable" becomes "all of the characters, at some point or another, did things that I found disagreeable or annoying" which is literally how every book works?
It also keeps you from holding a book to a standard it never sought to meet. "The world building in this book simply wasn't complex enough" becomes "The world building in this book was very simple", which, yes, good, that can actually be a good thing. Many books aspire to this. It's not actually a negative critique. Or "The stakes weren't very high and the climax didn't really offer any major plot twists or turns" becomes "The stakes were low and and the ending was quite predictable", which, if this is a cute romcom is exactly what I'm looking for.
Not to mention, I think this really helps to deconstruct a lot of the biases we carry into fiction. Characters not having strong agency isn't inherently bad. Characters who react to their surroundings can make a good story, so saying "the characters didn't have enough agency" is kind of weak, but when you flip it to say "the characters acted misaligned from their characterization" we can now see that the *real* problem here isn't that they lacked agency but that this lack of agency is inconsistent with the type of character that they are. a character this strong-willed *should* have more agency even if a weak-willed character might not.
So it's just a really simple way of framing the way I critique books that I think has really helped to show the difference between "this book is bad" and "this book didn't meet my personal preferences", but also, as someone talking about books, I think it helps give other people a clearer idea of what the book actually looks like so they can decide for themselves if it's worth their time.
Update: This is literally just a thought exercise to help you be more intentional with how you critique media. I'm not enforcing this as some divine rule that must be followed any time you have an opinion on fiction, and I'm definitely not saying that you have to structure every single sentence in a review to contain zero negative phrases. I'm just saying that I repurposed a rule we had at that specific reviewer to be a helpful tool to check myself when writing critiques now. If you don't want to use the tool, literally no one (especially not me) can or wants to force you to use it. As with all advice, it is a totally reasonable and normal thing to not have use for every piece of it that exists from random strangers on the internet. Use it to whatever extent it helps you or not at all.
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