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

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20
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
217 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
330 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
506 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
417 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
376 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
625 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
96 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
462 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
251 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
65 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
119 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
277 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
230 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 ...