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

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687 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 ...
4
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4answers
98 views

Is it a Good or Bad thing to use 'I' Regularly in Magazine Articles?

Do readers want to read articles where the author refers to themselves and their experiences, or would they prefer the author to leave themselves out of the article? When I say 'readers' I'm ...
10
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4answers
371 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 ...
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5answers
618 views

What does “Exposition and Ammunition – back story” mean in screenwriting?

I am just starting my first screen writing class and I got an assignment that says: Exposition and Ammunition – back story. I have been searching online but I don't get it. Can someone explain it for ...
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1answer
459 views

Is an overview clearer when outlined with bullet points, or when written in paragraphs?

I am writing a short piece for a technical audience. In essence I have three main points, each with sub-points. A few of the sub-points themselves have sub-points. I cannot help but find it clearer ...
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2answers
87 views

Could anyone point me in the direction of some resources on conversational writing

Im looking to improve my writing , i would love to know if anyone has any tips on developing an engaging conversational writing style.
5
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4answers
406 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 ...
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2answers
1k views

What needs to be included in a corporate style guide?

What kinds of things need to be included in a corporate style guide that can't already be found in S&W, AP, Chicago Style, etc?
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6answers
206 views

Please help me improve this sentence…

In a first-person narrative, I’d like to use the following sentence: It took me nearly a decade to write this script, and now I’d pitch it to the top producer in Hollywood. I’m not following ...
4
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2answers
90 views

What are some ways to denote presentation style outside of written text.

I would like my document as I am writing it to be independent of software layouts as I think it would be a better decision to make at the end of the process. What would be good ways to denote ...
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0answers
79 views

Looking for story that deliberately overused “get” [closed]

It was in Writer's Digest, probably the early 1980s, when I saw this. One of the regular columnists (or was it an irregular columnist?) went on a brief rant about careless writers overusing the word ...
11
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4answers
513 views

When should I avoid the passive voice? When might I use it?

An opinion exists that overusing of the passive voice can make writing harder for reading and understanding. Is it true for all kinds of writing? How to follow this advice without overemphasizing it? ...
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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 ...
5
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4answers
329 views

Rules and resources for scientific writing

The writing style in scientific papers in the natural sciences, e.g. chemistry and biology, seems very different from many other kinds of writing. There are usually severe restrictions on the length ...
13
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1answer
275 views

Checklist for making sure your writing is Atomic?

Question: Can someone please give me a list of things to check when reviewing a document to make sure that it is atomic. Atomic? Meaning that anyone can start reading at any section in a document ...
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 ...
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3answers
244 views

Simplicity is fundamental in design. How about in writing a novel?

I'm a web designer. The first rule in design is KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). How about writing a novel? Is simplicity fundamental or just an option?
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3answers
221 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 ...
5
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2answers
215 views

How can you build an interactive tone into articles?

I was wondering about tone in articles lately. My articles don't tend to be interactive. It feels like most of them are just flowing one way. How does actually tone contribute to the quality of an ...
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3answers
134 views

How to reword this: repeated back on him?

I don't know how to reword this: Along the way, we see how the faults Jacob made earlier in life are repeated back on him. I know repeated back on him doesn't sound correct, but I ...
4
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2answers
172 views

How should I approach possibly unfamiliar pop culture in fiction?

So sometimes I get an idea that forms specifically around some aspect of pop culture. They're often song lyrics. If the reader knows the song, they appreciate the symbolism and allegory or whatever ...
12
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2answers
379 views

Getting emotional while writing, good or bad?

Once in a while I get really emotional when writing. Writing about love, jealousy or even thinking about a simple scene in which a father plays with his child can get some strong emotional responses ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

How to make a letter interesting?

I have a question regarding the art of letter writing. I believe in the old-fashioned way of maintaining pen friendships (not necessarily a relationship, but could be) through hand-written letters, ...
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9answers
1k views

Tips for expanding my vocabulary?

Looking back through my texts, I noticed that I often use a lot of the same words and resort to using quite a basic vocabulary. I was wondering if there are any good exercises or anything else for ...
2
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0answers
200 views

Is Strunk and White's “The Elements” full of “stupid grammar advice?” [closed]

In a previous question I asked about The Elements, RegDwight posted a comment containing a link to this article by Geoffrey K. Pullum: 50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice. There is also a lengthier ...
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7answers
1k views

What's Essential In A Combat Scene?

I've just been reading a bunch of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books. Although they were the most enjoyable read I'd had in ages I always found myself skimming long segments that described involved ...
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5answers
550 views

What is flash fiction?

Is it simply defined by its short word count? Or are there other accepted conventions in flash fiction? If it's just the word count, how short is too short? How long is too long?
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7answers
903 views

Verb tense for technical document titles

I'm writing a technical manual about creating database systems, and wondered what is the best verb tense for title names. My ideas are: Continuous (-ing) form: (e.g. "Creating a Cluster", "Creating ...
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4answers
1k views

How do you avoid purple prose?

I try to watch out for bland, overused adjectives and I keep adverbs to a minimum but -- I hear this phrase a lot and I'm not even sure what it means?
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votes
6answers
829 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 ...
16
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4answers
553 views

As a non-native English speaker, Is it better to get translated or get copyedited for long texts?

My English level is average. I can write fluently and my vocabulary is not too limited. With the thought in mind that the end result must be perfect, is it better for me to write my long text (100 ...
5
votes
1answer
112 views

What are some appropriate uses of readability tests?

Do you use readability metrics (such as Gunning fog or Flesch-Kincaid) as you're working on a piece? If so, how do you use them, and what benefit do you get from using them?
12
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5answers
609 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
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4answers
420 views

How can I transition from academic writing to fiction writing?

I always receive the same critique when I write fiction. The critique is good for my characters and plot, but I am told that my writing style is stiff, awkward and amateurish. When I wrote academic ...
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2answers
3k 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 ...
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3answers
2k views

Writing 19th century upperclass English dialog

I was recently rereading bits of Pride and Prejudice and the dialog is absolutely brilliant. How can I learn to write dialog that sounds like it is from this general era? For example are there any ...
10
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3answers
321 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
351 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 ...
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4answers
399 views

How do you vary dialogue within stories?

How do you vary dialogue within stories? I often find myself writing "'sentence/dialogue' said character", and it sometimes gets really repetitive. How is this managed? These are the only words that ...
4
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1answer
248 views

Pros and cons of using perspectives?

What are the pros and cons of using first person/second person/third person perspective in your story?
13
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7answers
659 views

What helpful writing exercises do you use?

The two I do most are dialog and description related. When I meet a person or I'm just sitting people watching, I try to write their description in my head as if I was describing a character in a ...
11
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4answers
189 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?
12
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4answers
270 views

How to vary writing style?

I just had to edit a 40 page paper and I'm not kidding, there were paragraphs where every sentence started with "This." How do good writers learn to vary their sentence length and wording to flow? I ...
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 ...
12
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3answers
313 views

Avoiding Deus Ex Machina resolutions?

Most Crime/Thriller Novels usually have a sudden, unexpected plot twist that puts the main character in a really hopeless situation. One way to resolve this is by using a "Deus Ex Machina", that is a ...
2
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3answers
59 views

Spelling style in academic papers

When an article is submitted to a conference or journal, is it better to use British or American spelling? Does it have to be according to the conference or journal's style (based on where it is being ...
6
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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 ...