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

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11
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2answers
555 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
16k views

What are the differences between narrative and descriptive writing?

What are the differences between narrative and descriptive writing? While writing either what should we keep in mind?
10
votes
6answers
13k views

Should I indent the first line of the first paragraph in a chapter?

I was reading a thesis report of a friend and I noticed that he didn't indent the first line of the first paragraph in each chapter. I don't remember noticing it anywhere before until I saw it there ...
10
votes
5answers
544 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
373 views

How do you avoid the problem of all the characters in your story sounding the same?

There's a common flaw that I can easily detect in amateur writing, (and of course my own) which essentially boils down to all the characters "sounding the same", dialogue-wise anyway. Trying to ...
10
votes
3answers
332 views

How can multiple viewpoints be used without breaking the flow of the story?

I'm currently writing a story in first-person that has a connection to a series of external events - things that the main character has no way of knowing but are vital to the progression of the ...
10
votes
1answer
4k views

What are widely-used UK-English style guides?

In the UK, what are the equivalents to Chicago Manual of Style, the Associated Press style guide, Yahoo, APA, MLA, etc? Most importantly, what are their intended audiences? (AP is used for ...
9
votes
5answers
797 views

When should a chapter end?

When writing a novel, when should I end a chapter? Note that I'm not talking about chapter word-count (that topic was discussed here). I'm interested to know when should I end my chapters ...
9
votes
9answers
1k views

How to write realistic female dialogue

I just can't make my dialogue sound like it's being said by a woman. As a friend of mine pointed out, "This woman talks just like you, Jack." I tried imitating the speech patterns of various females ...
9
votes
6answers
831 views

What are the tricks to avoid repetition in writing?

After some time of working on my research, I usually have a structured information of my results, which I can best describe in bullets/numbers. Unfortunately, this is not what academia expects. For ...
9
votes
5answers
474 views

How can I learn how to outline, so I can write like an architect?

I've just watched one part of Brandon Sanderson's lecture on writing, the section entitled Gardeners & Architects and I realised I'm a Gardener, almost exclusively. This often ends up with me ...
9
votes
3answers
5k views

What's the difference between academic and journalistic writing?

I'm not talking about "boring" academic papers that are 99% science and 0% interesting. But in comments on a draft of my senior thesis, my teacher made the comment that my writing style was quite ...
9
votes
2answers
4k views

Techniques for writing internal monologue

I've seen the thoughts of a character written in a few different ways: Example 1: Indirect Ender liked it better, though, when two boys played against each other. Then they had to use each other's ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

Do you have to be good at grammar to get published?

I am not very good at grammar. Is there someone who would go through and correct your grammatical mistakes, even if you are not good at grammar? Who would this person be?
8
votes
5answers
774 views

How should dialog be formatted?

Is there any "official" rule that I should keep in mind when formatting character dialog? Line breaks, placement of quotes, mixing dialog with action descriptions etc. For example, I want to build a ...
8
votes
5answers
125 views

What style suggestions are common for which words are used in hyperlinks?

With a purpose of avoiding "More details here" style links that do not provide any information in the link itself, what styles are common/popular/suggested? A good example case (with bold as the ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the best practice for displaying a personal website url in a resume?

Like most veteran coders in the IT industry, I have an out-of-date website that I use to link to different activities I'm involved with online, like Twitter and Stack Overflow. Up until now, I haven't ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Little did he know

In the movie "Stranger Than Fiction" the professor of literature makes quite a big deal about the phrase "little did he know." I've written papers on "Little did he know." I've taught classes on ...
8
votes
3answers
992 views

What's with all the hate on adjectives and adverbs?

Ok, I'm starting to get a feel for this, but I'm hoping someone can explain it more clearly for me. I learned in all my English classes that sensory imagery is important, which naturally involves a ...
8
votes
2answers
429 views

Overuse of bullet points

I collaborate with someone who insists on making every sentence (or two) in a business document into a bullet point, by prefacing it with a bullet. This is typically done across a multi-page ...
8
votes
2answers
238 views

A Polish manual of style.

English language has a number of popular manuals of style. There's Chicago Manual of Style, Elements of Style etc. Do you know any such resource for the Polish language?
7
votes
4answers
358 views

Spaceships - It or She?

I'm writing a Science Fiction novel and describing a space ship. Sea Ships are usually feminine, while space ships don't seem to be either feminine or neutral. Would you stick to one? Or would you ...
7
votes
6answers
215 views

How deeply should I study the background of a community before writing about it?

By "background", I mean the dialects, habits and culture of the community. Also, I wonder if it is even possible to write about a community without being a part of it? I am only asking this in terms ...
7
votes
4answers
636 views

Using poetry in novels a good option?

I write fiction as well as poetry. And many a times I use poetry as a tool to bring out that acute feeling of pain or love (as required) in my explanations. What if I use poetry to introduce or end a ...
7
votes
5answers
389 views

Avoiding cultural differences

I'm not a native English speaker, but I write in English. I'm now visiting the US, and I have made some very interesting observation regarding the way ordinary life goes on here. It made me think of ...
7
votes
3answers
253 views

Techniques to write for a wider audience

Many years ago, I wrote a short story that used specific information from my cultural background e.g. a belief that if you dream something, it is a form of a vision (superstition, some may say!). This ...
7
votes
5answers
9k 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
284 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
355 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
694 views

How to write great movie review?

What should we write in a movie review?
7
votes
3answers
212 views

How should I capitalise headlines for professional Web writing? (Sentence case vs title case)

I'm often uncertain about how I should capitalise headlines for professional writing on the Web. The two options I'm talking about are: Just capitalise the first word and any other words that would ...
7
votes
1answer
219 views

Are different styles/storylines prefered in different languages/cultures?

I am German. Can I apply the hints for style or story-building given here, or by English authors, without a second thought to my own work written in German? Or are there differences in how style or ...
6
votes
4answers
252 views

Defining a Prologue

I came across prologues of several novels, and I noticed that they all were different from each other. Some had a short excerpt picked somewhere from the novel, a few included some private notes from ...
6
votes
6answers
261 views

How to display URLs in a textbook?

I am writing a textbook which contains some lists of recommended Web sites. Unlike the question How should be the format for literature references that are websites (URLs)?, these will not be ...
6
votes
4answers
296 views

Where to draw the line between being descriptive and getting on with the story?

I have loved writing since early in high school and it has helped me tremendously, not only in my emotional well being, but also in music. I have started writing on a lot of things, which I wanted to ...
6
votes
4answers
254 views

Italicize part of a word in fiction?

I am wondering if I can or should take a bit of stylistic license and italicize just part of a word: He took a sharp turn back into a side street, and collided hard with something that sent him ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Help with Impersonal Past Tense

'The Report is to be presented in the “impersonal past tense” e.g. Personal – I worked in the Design Department. Impersonal – The work was carried out in the Design Department.' ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the most effective way to deal with flashbacks in a novel structure ?

In writing a novel, often flashbacks are difficult to manage: if too long and detailed, they can appear as second class (at worst, aborted) plots whose only task is to sustain the main plot line; if ...
6
votes
4answers
257 views

Using capital letters for shouting

I respect that with the power of language, we don't necessarily need to capitalise anything, because a description of how a character is speaking is more powerful. Take my example: The hooded man ...
6
votes
6answers
1k views

Examples for books that don't use (traditional) chapters? [closed]

I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett, and he doesn't use chapters (mostly). Are there any other authors who don't or tend to not use chapters?
6
votes
4answers
307 views

How to avoid specifying the gender in English when the original text does not specify it?

I'm translating a short story from Korean into English. One problem I frequently face is the 'antecedent pronoun agreement' when the original text leaves the 'gender' of the subject unspecified (and ...
6
votes
3answers
107 views

When and how often edit the style and content of a story?

An early story I did I edited again and again to make it better. But in the end, I got the feeling the result was worse than before. Recently I tried to write (short-stories) in one go and only check ...
6
votes
3answers
118 views

Variation in paragraph length

I've learned that variation in sentence length is good. How about paragraph length? I always end up with paragraphs like this: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam ...
6
votes
4answers
4k views

Must every piece of speech get its own paragraph?

I've had a few people read pieces of narrative writing I've done, and they seem to take issue with the fact that I sometimes put a piece of speech inline with the rest of a non-dialogue paragraph, ...
6
votes
2answers
523 views

What is “head popping” and why is it bad?

Most of my writing experience has been with first person, nonfiction stories. Now I want to try some fiction. I'm working in third person, but I'm a little bit confused about how to pull something ...
6
votes
2answers
426 views

Is there some guideline that I can point to about the overuse of bold and underline?

I am getting really tired of getting emails and PowerPoint presentations in which half of the words are bold and underlined. There is also excessive use of exclamation points, all caps, and overly ...
6
votes
2answers
752 views

Should I prefer long or short sentences in scientific writing?

Currently, I am writing papers with rather short sentences: About half of them contain around 20 words, about 10% to 20% even less. I am doing this for three reasons: I find short sentences easier ...
6
votes
2answers
89 views

First person with co-authors?

I'm rewriting a technical book that will list two authors: the original author and me. Much of the text has been changed and there are some informal parts where reader is addressed in first person: "I ...
6
votes
2answers
143 views

What is this writing standard called, and where can I look up the exact details?

My English instructor said that he wants us to submit a heading and a header on our essays, taking the following form. The first page only should have our name, his name, the date, the subject (not ...
6
votes
2answers
449 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 ...