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

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On writing an essay, what are some good techniques to teach to schoolchildren?

I am currently teaching the way to write an essay as this: Step 1, write the topic sentence of the whole essay. Then, in the following first paragraph, develop the ideas that you are going to ...
27
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12answers
3k views

How does the 10,000 hour rule apply to writing?

The 10,000 hour rule, popularised by Malcolm Gladwell, says that: the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours ...
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2answers
270 views

What literary techniques are evident in this quote?

What literary techniques are evident in the following quote? I read each bullet scar in the Quai stonework With an eerie familiar feeling, And started at the stricken, sunny exposure of ...
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5answers
2k views

Writing about drug induced hallucinations and paranoia

Not long ago I wrote a short story about a mathematics graduate student on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The young student is innocent and working to finish a difficult mathematical derivation ...
11
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7answers
354 views

Do books have to be written in sequence?

So can we write the interesting action bits first, then add in the in between stuff, that maybe needed to understand the story or characters, but isnt so exciting by itself? For example the ...
7
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5answers
1k views

How Do you Stave Off Boredom While Writing?

I have about 20 half-finish novels sitting on my computer, in my filing cabinet, or under my bed. The story with each is the same - I start out with a full head of steam and great ideas, but about ...
6
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1answer
137 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 ...
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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. ...
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4answers
443 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 ...
6
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1answer
180 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 ...
2
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3answers
363 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 ...
7
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3answers
675 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
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5answers
814 views

How do you make a story succeed in spite of an unsympathetic main character?

I'm looking for techniques specific to a story with an unsympathetic main character. Confederacy of Dunces, for example. Why does that work, and why wouldn't that work with a likable hero?
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5answers
454 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 ...
16
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9answers
902 views

What methods can I use to revise my writing?

Background I am finding it challenging to transform an early draft into a finished product. My biggest challenges are putting the prose in the proper order and using topic sentences and transitions ...
12
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7answers
428 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

What is a good methodology for researching a historical novel?

I'm having difficulty with the research aspect of my historical novel. This question was originally going to be "how much research should one do to write a historical novel?" to which, answering my ...
13
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1answer
290 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 ...
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0answers
178 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 ...
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1answer
103 views

Is there a way of listing the elements that makes a real fact fun?

For instance I wrote this thing that is real God’s love is like your parents love / except for the ‘‘burning, crying, and screaming for eternity in hell" part / if you don’t obey them. and ...
19
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5answers
6k views

How to describe the point-of-view character without using mirrors

In fiction, the main character is often the first person we meet in the story. Given that the story is written from his/her point of view, how would you describe what they look like? The classical ...
5
votes
1answer
557 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 ...
15
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11answers
1k views

Which techniques can I use to become a better editor when editing my own writing?

I'm looking to improve my ability to edit and correct my own writing. What are some techniques I can use to help me with this?
25
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4answers
477 views

Editors: Edit on first read, or read and edit on second round?

I edit novels (among other works). I was having a discussion with someone (not an editor) who didn't understand my technique. What I do is read through the document, and the moment something occurs ...
8
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4answers
301 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 ...
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9answers
1k views

Where to find some good examples of combat or action scenes?

I always learn a lot about about writing by reading other works and following their examples. Right now I'm very bad at writing action scenes; the best I can do is write around them, describing the ...
16
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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? ...
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2answers
227 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?
8
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3answers
589 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 ...
25
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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?
9
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1answer
344 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
559 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
439 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 - ...
23
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10answers
556 views

How can one make technical issues more accessible to a non-technical audience?

Most of what I write is non-fiction -- technical books, blog posts on open source topics, political stuff, etc. Lately, I find that some of the topics I am trying to present are much more technical ...
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14answers
1k views

How to deal with self-criticism?

I write non-fiction articles for my website and a weekly paid newsletter, and I’m doing that for some time now. However, I still struggle a lot with self-criticism, and find it hard to regard an ...
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20answers
5k views

The “Rules” of Writing

There are a lot of axioms that get tossed around in creative writing courses, books on writing, and of course, the internet. Often, these little gems are explained to new writers as though they were ...
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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 ...
7
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1answer
107 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
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3answers
729 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 ...
13
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4answers
188 views

Are there any good magazines about writing?

As in all other fields I'm interested in, I love to have a subscribtion that makes sure some hugely inspirational material gets dropped into my mailbox once in a while. I'm not looking for magazines ...
14
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4answers
301 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
75 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?
12
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6answers
185 views

Writing for an Audio book. What are specifics?

What are specific requirements, a writer should follow, when writing something that is going to be (or just can possibly be) not only read but listened as well?
9
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2answers
131 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
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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 ...
13
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7answers
814 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 ...
12
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4answers
316 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
274 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 ...
37
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10answers
5k views

How can I write an attention-grabbing first line?

So, the beginning of any story needs to capture the attention of the reader, so he continues and wants to find out what's happening. A Confederacy of Dunces starts "A green hunting cap squeezed the ...
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6answers
475 views

Writing discipline

In today's frenetic, fast-paced lifestyle (especially if writing is not currently your career or means of earning an income), it can be extremely difficult to "make" or find the time that can be set ...