Common, repeatable methods of achieving particular storytelling effects or of avoiding narrative pitfalls.

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15
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8answers
2k views

What breaks suspension of disbelief?

So much of Sci-Fi and Fantasy requires the viewer (or reader) to suspend their disbelief: The speed of light can be circumvented, magic works, vampires are real (and may or may not sparkle), etc. ...
6
votes
1answer
136 views

Is there a good textbook for understanding literary techniques?

I want to really understand literary techniques. I want to be able to say "Ah, I see this writer is making use of assonance," or "I think I will use a simile here instead of a metaphor." There are ...
5
votes
4answers
412 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
358 views

How credible is wikipedia?

I understand that this question relates more to wikipedia than it does writing but... If I was going to use wikipedia for a source for a research project (for example) would the information be ...
6
votes
1answer
166 views

What are tips / techniques to manage the consistency of a plot encompassing several subplots ?

When I lay out a plot consisting of interwoven threads, one of the most annoying things is to manage effectively the factual, logical consistency of the whole. In order to be more effective and ...
7
votes
3answers
555 views

How to practice location descriptions

When trying to strengthen my writing on how to correctly describe a location I try to write a small text on each location I am. (These are then saved in Evernote so that I can search for them) I found ...
13
votes
1answer
277 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 ...
12
votes
7answers
367 views

Should you read your own genre?

In terms of novel writing, I tend to avoid my own genre, at least for the most part. Some of the reasons why: Genre Blindness / Genre Trap: Too much reading of your own genre blinds you to the ...
3
votes
0answers
174 views

Are there any techniques to arrange or list ideas from a short text? [closed]

For example I wrote this: !Paying! for exams, and also books to pass them is only a small price / to give poor people the opportunity / ...to contribute for the MANSIONS of the people in ...
12
votes
11answers
1k views

Is touch typing skill important for being a good writer?

Yes, I know - it is important. But my question is: does it influence the speed only? Do "two finger typing" and "peek typing" eat part of writer's attention and destroy creativity? Does the method ...
5
votes
1answer
499 views

Techniques for minimizing redundancy in a document, paragraph or sentence?

Can you provide me with some techniques for minimizing redundancy in English sentence structure on three levels? The Document Level The Paragraph Level The Sentence Level I'm trying to get better ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

How does one implement effective foreshadowing?

I am a "reread reader" - that is, I like to read the same book more than once. The books I have the most fun reading again are the ones that effectively foreshadow what comes later in the book. This ...
8
votes
4answers
292 views

Are there any techniques that make complexity work?

One for the creative writers, although I suppose a lateral shift might put it within reach of journalists/technical writers. As authors we all want to write, I would imagine: Something that many ...
23
votes
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?
4
votes
2answers
222 views

How do you write a fiction or non-fiction query letter to an editor?

What do you put in the letter? What if you have no experience or very limited experience. Should you write about yourself in the third or first person when explaining your experience?
16
votes
3answers
1k views

How do you make a character quintessential, but not cliched or cartoony?

I think it's hard to make a character standout and embody their traits without becoming cliched or cartoons. How do you do this? What are some tips to enlivening a character and making them memorable? ...
9
votes
1answer
338 views

What are the best online writing classes?

I've taken some classes at Mediabistro.com -- both nonfiction -- and while the teachers have been pretty good (one gave me some excellent advice that led to publication in national magazines) ... the ...
8
votes
3answers
535 views

Are composite characters in creative non-fiction okay?

I come from a journalism background and am very interested in the dying style of narrative journalism, or creative non-fiction. I was discussing a project with a potential editor and said I didn't ...
5
votes
1answer
459 views

When parodying a song, how important is it to replace words with homophones thereof?

I often decide to parody songs to adapt them to different contexts -- mainly for fun, for improving my English and causing an healthy amount of groans into people who read my creations. However, I ...
3
votes
2answers
405 views

original story climaxes - rules / guidelines for this?

I always get stuck trying to work out what the high-point of the story should be, especially when writing sci-fi/fantasy. There seem to be just a few climaxes that get recycled through this genre - ...
13
votes
7answers
690 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
104 views

Expositing a lack of racial difference

I have a story set in a fantasy-Africa, in which the protagonist must make her way from her rural home to a coastal city in order to seek medical treatment that will save her life. One beta reader for ...
6
votes
2answers
543 views

Can someone explain set pieces?

I was using a book in a writing group that talked about set pieces, but I never really got a clear idea of what it is or how they're supposed to appear in writing. My impression was that you have a ...
12
votes
4answers
274 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
71 views

Where and how to look for a picture for illustration?

Do you think a writing can always benefit from the use of a visual illustration? If so, how to find for free or buy an appropriate picture, photo, drawing etc.? What are practical recommendations?
9
votes
2answers
121 views

When is it a good time to move on to another project?

I've seen it mentioned in software development the concept of Fail Early, Fail Often. Using failure as a learning process is important to get better at any craft. In my writing, I have a habit of ...
12
votes
4answers
297 views

Are “morning pages” useful?

I've found an interesting private online journaling website: 750words.com From "About" section of the website: I've long been inspired by an idea I first learned about in The Artist's Way called ...
3
votes
3answers
254 views

What techniques do you use to invent snappy turns of phrase?

We all know clichés are bad[1] and that fresh, inventive and "fitting" phrases will delight and entertain our readers. What techniques can be used to invent such phrases? Sometimes they just ...