A place to dump tutorials and/or references I find

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on writing disabled characters


for chronikou

some of these resources aren’t targeted writers, but i included them because they are useful tools in understanding how disabled people live

disabled characters in general

How to Write Disabled Characters

Tips for Researching and Respectfully Writing Disabled Characters

Combating Stereotypes: Why Movies About ‘the Disabled’ Stink

Big Ideas: Stella Young On Disability & Inspiration Porn

The Spoon Theory 

fellow writers and artists who are creating characters who belong to marginalized groups you are not a part of

What is Ableism? Five Things About Ableism You Should Know

physically disabled characters

Top Fifteen Things Not to Say or Do to a Physically Disabled Person

Some Thoughts on “Physically Disabled Protagonists”

autistic characters

Writing autistic characters

Mental age is not acceptable (applies to people with learning disorders or other cognitive disabilities too)

Against “mental age”

Infantilization or Not?

15 Things You Should Never Say To An Autistic

The Problem With Functioning Labels

Television on the Spectrum: The Best (and Worst) Depictions of Asperger Syndrome on TV

mentally ill characters

Character Development: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Brief Advice on How to Write Depression: Imagination and Research

psychopathy and why everything you think about it is wrong and terrible (the author of that post says that fang is willing to answer any questions on the subject)

the DSM-5 

my own thoughts

if i had to write a ten commandments for writing disabled characters they would probably be:

  • don’t reduce them solely to their disability, but also don’t act like their disability is separate from who they are (if you have multiple disabled characters though, it’s fine for them to feel like this is true for them personally). develop them as a person with likes, dislikes, etc.
  • don’t use them to ‘inspire’ people because they’re disabled and are able to ‘overcome’ it.
  • don’t cure their disability in the story. please, please, please.
  • don’t pull a JK Rowling. explicitly state that they are disabled within the story proper. otherwise it’s not really representation at all.
  • don’t rely heavily on things that people who are not part of the group have written about disabled people, if possible. if you do, you may end up regurgitating some really gross ideas. (avoid Autism Speaks resources like the plague.)
  • don’t have other characters describe the character as ‘trapped in their own body/world’ or better off dead, unless you will have someone else confront that character about what they said.
  • don’t act like the only obstacles they face are from their disability. show how the social and legal stigmas against disability affects their lives too.

(via artist-refs)

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Romance: From Hate to Love


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Common POV Problems


Understanding POV (point of view) can be a huge source of frustration for many writers. We often struggle with what POV we should write in, how it should be utilized, and what we can do with it to strengthen our stories. If your readers are often confused by your POV choices, take a look at these common POV problems to figure out what you might be doing wrong.

Here are a few POV problems to keep an eye on:

Bouncing Around

It’s fine if you want to include multiple POVs (focusing on different characters), but it can get confusing if you switch from 1st person to 3rd person, for example. You also need to make it clear which characters you’ll be focusing on. If you’re focusing on 4 characters, don’t suddenly include a 5th character for one chapter. Obviously, there are reasons why you would suddenly include a new character (an intro to the sequel, a surprise twist, etc), but try to stick to a pattern. A Game of Thrones focuses on many different characters, but they all stick to a storyline and only certain characters are included in each book. Don’t confuse your readers!

Describing Things a Character Wouldn’t Know

If you’re writing in 1st person, you need to be very careful not to describe something your main character doesn’t know. For example, they wouldn’t know how someone else was feeling unless they were told. They can take a guess or they can ask, but they can’t just mysteriously know things. You also need to be careful when writing in 3rd person if it’s not omniscient. If a character isn’t directly involved in a scene, there are certain things they wouldn’t know. Try to stick to what each character sees, hears, or feels.

Lacks Connection to Any Character

You can switch between characters, but your readers should have an emotional connection to at least one character. There should almost always be a main focus. You can write a story about someone losing a loved one, but you still need to focus on what the main character is feeling. It can’t just be all about the dying character. We need to know that the main character is feeling something or experiencing something that will somehow change their life. You’re not just telling a story, you’ll letting us in on your character’s emotional journey.

-Kris Noel

(via thewritingcafe)

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Anonymous asked: Is it common and/or accepted to give male- or female-gendered babies names that are opposite-gendered in China? Or are name genders strictly recognized? I've been trying to find lists of given names in China organized by popularity (1 being the most popular, and then ranking names from there), but I keep finding very incomplete lists, which is frustrating because I can find extremely comprehensive baby name lists for America and a few other countries.






No, and not really accepted. 

The Chinese try to make unique names for their children so they stand out of the crowd and aren’t confused with others. It’s actually taboo to name your child after someone else. There are some common given names here.

Names in China are chosen very, very carefully and generational naming trends are common (it’s very common to give one generation of kids in a family a connecting character (Wenting and Wenming, etc).

There are names that sound the same but use completely different characters based on gender, generation, and decided important (Xiaoming can be a male and female name, but it can be written with different characters. It also is the vague equivalent of ‘John/Jane Doe’ in mainland China).

Though there are some names that are more common for men and some for women, it depends entirely on the characters and you absolutely cannot tell gender from names written in pinyin alone (and sometimes not even from the hanzi either).

Basically, you want to be really careful when choosing Chinese names, and you may want to ask someone for help if you’re not sure!

Hi, I’m a Chinese-American writer and I just went through the process of naming some Chinese characters of mine with my mom’s help. I’d still suggest maybe asking for the help of someone who’s native (and literate in Chinese) with the actual names but I can maybe provide a bit more information if you’re unable to do that. 

Chinese names aren’t generally chosen on the basis of gender. There are trends like flower names are generally for girls and dragon names are for boys but I think for the most part Chinese names are gender neutral. Well at least my mom didn’t think it was weird at all that I ended up naming a male character after her. Her name literally means “eagle” though so. Naming kids is a very intensive process. 

There’s generally three words in a chinese name. The family name, the generational name, and the individual name. 

The generational name used to be cycled ever 60 years, according to the book of life which informs a lot of Chinese feng shui belief. Each family tree would have their own list. That way if you found someone with the same generational name and family name, you could probably assume you were related.

However, during the Cultural Revolution, a lot of that was lost. Because the revolution was about casting aside tradition, many families threw away their family book thing, and some, especially those families who strongly subscribed to Communist thought never gave their children generational names. My sister, my cousin, and I all have the same generational name, but it’s not traditional. My mom found a new one she liked. Also, generational names were often split by gender. My dad has different generational names than my aunts. 

Names will also often be derived from the parent’s name. My mom’s individual name, 鹰, has the character 佳, in it, which is my individual name. Additionally, it’s pronounced jiā, which is pronounced the same as my dad’s generational name.  This is something she spent a long time pouring through Chinese dictionaries to find. 

Also to note, something that you’ll probably need someone who’s literate in Chinese for; zodiac and fengshui can and will be taken into account. According to Chinese belief, the day you were born influences a lot of elements. Because my sister’s birthday dictated that she had a lot of water and was lacking in wood, my mom made sure her individual name contained the symbol for wood. 

When creating names for characters, I don’t think you’ll have to go that in depth, but looking up the Chinese elemental system can make for good inspiration. I don’t know it very well but it’s like, someone who’s lacking in fire doesn’t have a lot of ambition, and someone with a lot of wood has the capacity for a lot of growth. 

It’s a bit tricky to approach naming chinese characters because of how closely it ties to the family aspect, but don’t let that discourage you! Just give a lot of thought as to which words you want to use and what meanings they will bring to a character’s life. 

I’m fairly certain this the way naming kids works but this also might just be my family. Anyway, I hope that was helpful!

More fyi, Chinese names can also be just two characters. The first one, the surname; the second one, the first/individual name. Homonyms are also a consideration, as parents try to pick names that can’t easily be turned into a playground taunt. 

ALL OF THE ABOVE. Many given names have two characters, most family names have one, but there are Chinese last names that have two characters! (I just spoke to someone with the family name of ‘Sima’ for example.) The Old Hundred Names are the most common surnames, but they aren’t the only ones out there!

(Don’t forget the many Chinese minorities either!)

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Writability: 7 Signs You Should Cut Your Prologue


Those of you who follow me on Twitter may or may not have seen this last week:

Ah, the joy of the prologue debate.

The thing is, I’ve been finding more often than not, people need their prologues much less than they think they do. And it’s understandable—I mean, it’s tough to be able to look at your work objectively and decide what scenes you need and don’t need, and it can be even tougher when you’re talking about the opening of your book.

So without further ado, I thought I’d share seven signs that you may want to consider cutting your prologue.

  1. Your prologue is your main character’s birth. Listen, I know people say to start where you story starts, but we don’t mean literally. I can’t think of a time when I read a prologue recounting the protagonist’s birth that I didn’t think it wasn’t unnecessary. I promise you, we don’t need to know the details of your protagonist’s birth. We really, really don’t.

    Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, I did this with my first manuscript. And it wasn’t necessary then, either (I just didn’t know it at the time).

  2. Your prologue is all (or mostly) exposition. Nope. Don’t start your book with exposition. Why? Because you’re telling. And if you start your book off with a load of telling, then readers are immediately going to think the rest of your manuscript has tons of telling. Not only that, but exposition tends to be a really slow way to start a book and not an incredibly effective hook.

    I understand that you want to get information across—you should! But there are way more effective ways to get information across than with an expository opening. Consider sprinkling that information throughout your prose, instead—not only will it help you avoid the evils of info-dumping, but it’ll be much more interesting to read.

  3. Your prologue features not your main character. I’m not saying this never works—in fact, I’ve seen it work. However, this can be a very confusing way to open a book.

    Think about it—a reader who opens up your book, knowing little to nothing about it, is going to read the first few pages and think that the character it’s focused on is, indeed, your protagonist. When they finish the prologue and learn that the character is in fact not your protagonist, it can be a little jarring. Very jarring, if we’re being honest.

  4. Your prologue isn’t directly related to your main character. If it isn’t clear how the events that unfold in your prologue affect your main character (and thus the main plot), then your prologue is going to not only be confusing, but most will consider it unnecessary (and so should you).

  5. Your prologue is a false start. I’ve seen prologues that are full of action and mystery and intrigue…and then the first chapter is incredibly slow and has little to do with the prologue. Don’t do this.

    The reason you want to avoid false starts is it doesn’t accomplish what you think it does—sure, it might get people reading through the prologue, but once they reach the first chapter they’ll realize that the prologue was really just a bait-and-switch hook.

    I get that you want to start with an interesting hook, and you should start with an interesting hook. But the answer isn’t through a super exciting and mostly unrelated prologue–the answer is to look at your real opening (that is, your first chapter) and figuring out whether you’re starting in the right place and how to include your hook in that opening scene.

  6. Your prologue features your antagonist doing something super evil. I’m not saying this never works, but it’s so painfully overdone, especially in fantasy novels. For me, they don’t give the dramatic affect they may have when this trope first started—now I just tend to roll my eyes and think thoughts that rhyme with “melodramatic.” And that’s not how you want people reacting to your opening.

    And again, full disclosure, my first ever manuscript’s prologue did this, too…yes it committed two grave sins. 

  7. You’re not sure whether or not to include your prologue when querying or submitting. So this isn’t something you’ll see in your manuscript—this is actually your subconscious letting you know you don’t need your prologue.

    If your book doesn’t absolutely 100% need the prologue to be understood, then you don’t need it. Period. Which means if you’re even considering sending your query off without your prologue, then your inner writer is tapping you on the shoulder and letting you know it’s time to get the scissors.

What signs can you think of to add to the list?

(via fixyourwritinghabits)

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