If the answer is "pick a method and be consistent", your question may be one of style.

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7
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4answers
423 views

Writing techniques or exercises to improve ability to show rather than tell?

Does anyone have any effective writing techniques or exercises that you use to help you focus more on showing the reader what you mean rather than just telling them about? I know I often find myself ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Striking the balance between dialogue and narrative

I am participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. I have never in my life written so much of a single story. Although I am supposed to tell my inner editor to shut up this month, she is ...
12
votes
5answers
772 views

When is a prologue useful?

Prologues tend to get a bad rap on the internet, and sometimes for good reason. They're often used by as an excuse to start a novel with an info-dump. However, it seems to me that people often ...
12
votes
9answers
569 views

Initial Writing Medium

I am curious which is better for a beginning writer (or writer) starting a new story. Pen and paper or the computer? Pen & Paper is a lot more sketchy (like the layout of this site) which gives ...
11
votes
4answers
233 views

What are the usual methods for getting a daily word count?

Do, normally, only words which are eventually to be kept count, or do you also count rewrites? For example, if I rewrite a 50 word paragraph 10 times, is my daily count up to 50 or up to 500?
10
votes
5answers
683 views

Switching POV: Should it ever be done at all?

When I started, I had a nasty habit of hopping from perspective to perspective to perspective. I forced myself down to one perspective per chapter, but I still wonder if it's acceptable to do it at ...
7
votes
4answers
680 views

What's the difference between purple prose and vividly descriptive writing?

Elements of Style describes purple prose as "hard to digest, generally unwholesome, and sometimes nauseating." In short, it's ornate, contrived and breaks the narrative. There's plenty of advice on ...
5
votes
4answers
493 views

What makes a good action scene?

Action, in any storytelling medium, is the relationship between build up and pay off. While cinema may emphasize the payoff (pyrotechnics play well to theater-going crowds) it seems that the written ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Pros ans cons of writing a plot based on the present and past tense (character's point of view)?

I'm not sure if I should write my first book in the present or past tense. The book is about a doctor in a clinic who is analysing his patients. e.g. I said, VS I say. I thought for a while ...
4
votes
4answers
978 views

Strunk and White vs “Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace” by Williams and Colomb

I'd like to improve my writing and have been considering getting either The Elements of Style by Strunk and White or Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace by Williams and Colomb. What are their ...
11
votes
3answers
271 views

Is it a good idea to write a summary of a plot before writing the full version?

Sometimes when I write a plot I get confused about the motivations of the characters and how events connect as I change elements. Is it a good idea to write a summary first in order to organise ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How to write great movie review?

What should we write in a movie review?
7
votes
2answers
519 views

How not to overuse ellipsis?

I always… feel… so… expressive when I see this little nicy dots!.. I just can't stop to put them more… and more… and more… Please teach me how to stop!.. Update: I guess people misunderstood me. I ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

How do I change a novel from first person to limited third person?

For various reasons (increased clarity, and an interested agent), I'm rewriting what was once two first-person POVs into a third person limited POV. Other answers have previously established the ...
3
votes
5answers
116 views

What aspects of written dialogue are important when giving characters a unique voice?

I have a project that I am working on in which I need to write quite a few fictional informal email correspondences between pairs of characters. I am not using these characters in any other context. ...
3
votes
4answers
697 views

Should I use ellipses or em dashes to denote pauses in speech?

I flipped open its latch and peered inside. A—gold tooth? I flipped open its latch and peered inside. A ... gold tooth? Was it an elephant? No, elephants didn't frequent beaches. It ...
2
votes
5answers
700 views

Techniques for creating variety in prose

When I write my short stories, I usually end up using a direct style as follows: Tim remembered the day he had to say goodbye to Cathy. He did not really have a choice. He had to let go of Cathy, ...
1
vote
2answers
63 views

Should I use letters or digits in the following case?

De-Shi was holding something that looked like a price tag. It had the numbers 024 written on it. "Isn't that what cows wear as earrings?" "Yeah," De-Shi said, still inspecting the ...
1
vote
4answers
862 views

Is this stylized writing successful or gimmicky?

This is a ~3000-word piece, with deliberately stylized writing. Is the style of this piece successful or gimmicky? Does it read smooth or choppy? He sat on top of the highway. City on a hill. He ...
1
vote
4answers
435 views

How can I write poems in an attractable manner?

I have written several poems, but only very few won prices. Those poems impressed people very much, so I want you to share your thoughts, what are the key things I have to focus on or I have to keep ...
12
votes
5answers
622 views

How much should I describe things or persons, that are not important for the story?

I discussed a book with a friend, and he disliked that the author described a person who is dying shortly after and has no further effect on the story over a page or more. The same would go for ...
7
votes
5answers
18k views

All persons fictitious disclaimer — ideas regarding modification?

I'm creating a parody/spoof magazine which contains some "real" advertisements and businesses in. How should I word an "all persons fictitious" disclaimer to include fictitious businesses? This is ...
7
votes
2answers
304 views

How to emphasize a quote is written, not spoken?

In a similar question on EL&U, I asked about suggestions for indicating that a quote is written instead of spoken. Robusto's answer suggested several possible approaches: For longer quotes of ...
7
votes
2answers
445 views

How many liberties can one take with syntax and grammar rules when writing poetry?

I've begun to wrote a small fable in verse for my girlfriend, whereas she gets one part of the story for each day before Christmas since the 1st December. She likes it, however she tells me nearly ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Using ACM style, how do I cite an article without a specific author's name?

I'm using Mendeley, and trying to cite this article using ACM citation style: Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus American Diabetes Association Should the author be "N/A" or ...
4
votes
3answers
206 views

What revisions for this draft would be more readable and/or more humorous?

Notes: My audience knows that adrenaline and epinephrine are synonyms. I'm new! I'm sorry if I abuse the site by posting this! Please critique ruthlessly. I would send by Facebook message to a ...
3
votes
6answers
284 views

Are there words that are “stronger” than others? If so, why?

By strong I mean causing intense feelings in the reader. I thought about this while I was editing my novel (I consider the second cases to be stronger words): I turned to the left I twisted ...
2
votes
3answers
400 views

How to format multiple inner voices, differentiating the text from dialogue? and omnipresent inner voice

For the occasional use of inner voice, Italics are usually recommended. However I have a protagonist who is speaking with himself all the time, and Italics use quickly becomes tiring and ...
2
votes
3answers
64 views

Literary criticism handbook

Can you point out some reference books on literary criticism – from a theoretical as well as practical point of view – to hone and systematize my skills, acquired through first-hand reading of lots of ...
2
votes
2answers
241 views

Multiple characters without names: how to address

First off, the answer might be pretty much obvious (that there is no clear way to distinguish these characters) but I would still very much like to have perspectives (and perhaps even get an answer). ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

How to cite a Terms of Service in APA style

I need to cite a Google condition using APA style. I have the following paragraph, but when I pass it through Viper I get plagiarized. How shall I do?
1
vote
4answers
161 views

Why end sentences with commas instead of periods when the sentence is in a quote?

I've seen styles where writers end sentences with commas if it is inside double quotes and styles where writers end sentences with periods. For example: "She's late again." mumbled Jason. ...
1
vote
3answers
147 views

How important is a catchy first paragraph?

Some novels start with a bang, with a ingeniously crafted opening paragraph or sentence that instantly catches the interest of the reader and starts the concept of the novel. How important is it to ...
1
vote
5answers
112 views

Is there an objective way to determine that writing is “stilted and cluttered”? [closed]

For question, see title. For example of supposedly "stilted and cluttered" writing, see below. The Constitutional prohibition against political dynasties cannot be made clearer, but no ...
1
vote
4answers
115 views

How much information should a narrative sentence contain ,from experience on average, for good readability?

While randomly browsing, i noticed fiction writings contain much more comas in their sentences as lets say sentences in chats or instruction leaflets. just for contrast simple sentence: i live in ...
1
vote
4answers
255 views

“…and the fire from the stove engulfed him” or “jumped on him” or “covered him” or “devoured him” or what?

Which verb should I use here? He opened the stove and the fire from the stove [engulfed/jumped on/covered/devoured] him. "Help! Help!" - he shouted at once. "I'm on fire!"
0
votes
1answer
537 views

How to approach an “Imagine and Describe” creative essay prompt?

I have this prompt for a creative essay as part of my application into a summer program: Participants in the Summer Programs for High School Students come from approximately 75 different countries ...
0
votes
1answer
79 views

When should headers be used in writing?

When I ask the Should I use hypophoras at the beginning of every paragraphs? question, Lauren Ipsum suggests me to organize things with headers while Kristina Adams advises me to avoid headers in ...
0
votes
2answers
47 views

Which opening for my book is better? [closed]

I am currently writing a fictional book. I have no idea how to introduce the new country and the history. I already have three ideas on how to start the book, but I don't know which one to use and ...
-1
votes
1answer
350 views

Examples of Successful Rule-Breaking in Novels [closed]

I just finished "The House of the Seven Gables" by Hawthorne. I was struck by how often he switched tenses. Mostly the narration was in past tense, but then he would switch to present or even future ...