Questions about word choice where the focus is on etymology or grammar may be more on-topic at Stack Exchange's English Language & Usage site.

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12
votes
8answers
4k views

Why does using this “-ing” verb construction make my writing weaker?

I had to write a scholarship essay, wherein I wrote this sentence: Over the ensuing years I read as much as I could, trying to increase my knowledge and understanding of my own language. I sent ...
0
votes
0answers
18 views

“The signal on the Zibby is dead” - what is the meaning of “Zibby”? [migrated]

I am line editing a book about World War II and the Battle of the Coral Sea. The action is taking place in the front and rear cockpits of a Devastator torpedo-bomber aircraft. The pilot and gunner ...
6
votes
2answers
261 views

Finding words through meanings

Is there a place or a type of dictionary or even a good method, that instead of searching for a word, I can search for a meaning and get more words that have similar idea or meaning? For example, if ...
1
vote
2answers
46 views

A better word for dusty? [closed]

I am describing the condition of cardboard boxes which have been in the attic for years. They are in good condition and aren't dirty. The sentence is "dark and...?" I have tried dusty but that's ...
-2
votes
1answer
42 views

Modifier adjectives correct usage [closed]

In my view, written prose is an art form. I'm aware that many associate communication with their textual exchanges — but diversively beautiful exposition is also held in quite ample esteem. I've been ...
6
votes
6answers
502 views

Does writing in a certain mood change how a writer writes?

I'm not sure if this is right for this part of Stackexchange, but since there is no psychology section, here we go: I'm currently writing the same short story several times with the intention of ...
16
votes
14answers
3k views

How much swearing is TOO much? (And how much is not enough?)

I've noticed that some of the most successful writers refrain from using profanity, such as Stephanie Meyer and Norman Mailer. Are readers turned off by swearing in books? More importantly, is it ...
0
votes
2answers
27 views

What type of argument is this?

I'm looking for a phrase or type of argument for the line of thinking that goes like this: "The remote control is lost. Since I have not (literally) checked every inch of the living room, I don't ...
0
votes
2answers
120 views

Describing laughter in dialogue?

I'm having a problem that is not addressed by The Chicago Manual of Style or the AP Style Guide I have access to: How does a writer express laughter in fiction? I have seen no consistent answer. It ...
1
vote
5answers
138 views

Using filler words like 'So', 'Anyway'

I find myself using these words all the time. Now (<-- there's one!), to be clear the context I'm using them is in conversational style writing, on social commentary, or in forum posts like ...
3
votes
5answers
101 views

Is it fine to write something that has no relation to my local life or language or culture?

I am writing a novel (well, I have started to), with a fantasy middle ages and magic sort of background and English, Greek and meaningless names. I am from India, but my story feels 'European'. Should ...
-3
votes
6answers
14k views

How do greetings vary with time of day?

A character in a story meets another and the author is keeping time of day, as in "the clock was indicating 12 noon". How do the characters greet each other? Kindly include salutations for each time ...
6
votes
5answers
187 views

Acquiring vocabulary to write fiction

I am a non-native speaker, learning the English language, and I am already fairly good in reading and writing technical texts. I also enjoy reading fiction books much, but there's one thing that hits ...
0
votes
2answers
49 views

Expressing mocking humor

This is my very first writing, so forgive me if i sound silly. I am trying to express a thought from my mind where a mocking humor about "the excessive education but no common sense in our society" ...
0
votes
2answers
67 views

Is “vampiric” a legitimate word?

Writing a short story and the word 'vampiric' found it's way on the screen describing a medical blood-taking device. Word [of course] pitched a fit and I can...sort of...find some evidence that it is ...
0
votes
3answers
134 views

“Till now” in formal letter

Is it okay to use "till now" in a formal letter? "Listing below all the changes done till now..." or is there a better synonym I can use?
1
vote
1answer
75 views

Dialogue identifying the character that is currently speaking

I am writing a novel, and I am trying to find the right dialogue tags for identifying the character that is currently speaking. Here are some examples of two forms, and I am unable to decide which one ...
0
votes
2answers
51 views

What is an alternative for “the size of a pack of cigarettes”? [closed]

Often when trying to give a reader an approximate size for something that fits in your hand that they can visualize and quickly understand, a writer might describe it as "about the size of a pack of ...
1
vote
2answers
104 views

writing dialogues using contracted forms of auxiliary verbs

where should we use contracted forms while writing dialogues? how do we chose which is better (say 'do not' or 'don't') in a particular situation while we are writing dialogues in our fiction?
1
vote
0answers
46 views

Can someone help invent an expression for this situation? [closed]

I'm stuck for an expression that describes this example, which is similar to a "self-fulfilling prophecy" but is more complicated: Someone claims, falsely, to be a dentist. Someone who likes ...
4
votes
4answers
147 views

Can a foreign language novel have English character names?

Situation: My main character is born and raised in a foreign, non-English speaking country. After his 18th birthday he moves due to some circumstances in Great Britain, learns the language and lives ...
7
votes
5answers
633 views

Will using real-world cultural vocabulary in a fantasy setting disengage readers?

If I have certain minor rituals/garments/culture tidbits in a fantasy setting that mirror those of Earth, and I describe them using the real-world vocabulary, will that disengage readers from the ...
-1
votes
1answer
51 views

Are there any proper ways of using/implementing “e.g.” in a “Research Narrative”?

Are there any proper ways of using/implementing e.g. in a "Research Narrative"? I am working on a "Research Narrative" (I must write in both ALA and MLA format). I am curious about this e.g. but I ...
1
vote
2answers
79 views

What are some Que and Clues on 3rd Person POV shift?

I am writing in 3rd person limited POV. I have noticed I have section of text that seem to shift to omniscient. A lot of this happens when I'm forced to tell bits of information to the reader. By ...
1
vote
1answer
81 views

How to write an instructor instructing others about complicated tasks?

I am want to write scenes in a story which include one character providing instruction to other characters on how to perform complicated tasks that require a lot of technical detail and applied ...
-1
votes
2answers
233 views

Avoid repeating specific words with no synonyms

For a short essay assignment (650 word limit), I'm writing about how my experiences with learning Norwegian shaped me as an individual with the underlying idea centered around how sharing a common ...
1
vote
1answer
179 views

Usage of archaic words

I am a non-native speaker trying to write in English. Due to my reading of chiefly dated English literature, my vocabulary consists of many terms that are regarded as being archaic nowadays. In the ...
1
vote
2answers
296 views

How do you describe the sound of someone being dragged across the floor? [closed]

So I'm writing this story and got stuck on the part where two of my main characters arrived at this house and they hear dragging but the problem is I don't know how to describe the dragging without ...
0
votes
2answers
150 views

Synonym for 'overly obvious'? [closed]

Writing about Waugh. Nanny Hawkins is first described thus: 'her hands lay open in her lap and, loosely between then, a rosary; she was fast asleep'. I find the rosary reference to be TOO blatant, ...
0
votes
2answers
34 views

How to avoid repeating the adjective “corresponding”? [closed]

I have the following sentence (I am not native): If the context relies on a single anchor (Self, Parent, Following), the nodes within the corresponding scope are treated with regard to this ...
2
votes
3answers
99 views

How to express myself in a sensible way

I find really hard to express myself I mean it's pretty difficult write clearly what I mean. Any time I try to write something even for my job I am stuck, I look at the page and no words come to my ...
5
votes
4answers
141 views

Should word choice be varied or consistent?

I've heard from some English teachers that word choice should be varied because consistent word choice is boring, but I've heard from a different English teacher that word choice should be consistent. ...
1
vote
3answers
47 views

How to describe a hypnotized state? [closed]

I'm making a computer game. In one of the dialogs, one of the characters observes some factory workers who have been brainwashed by some alien species and drive forklifts up and down the factory yard ...
1
vote
3answers
78 views

Is using “gonna” in first-person narrative acceptable?

From what i understand, an author is supposed to conform to proper grammatical convention both when writing in third-person and first-person narrative. Is a sentence like this considered "acceptable" ...
5
votes
4answers
110 views

Using “and/or” in a manuscript

I've used "and/or" in my writings in the past, but not for fiction manuscripts. Is it acceptable to use this? It's internal narration in a character's head and intended to have a bit of morbid humor ...
1
vote
1answer
97 views

online database of clever phrases

Is there a website that has a collection of clever or poetic phrases or expressions that one can search or browse through. What about a book? I used to have a book like this but I lost it. It had ...
1
vote
3answers
196 views

Female Pet Names that a Londoner might use

I was wondering about female pet names, like darling, sweetie, pet, babe etc. One of my characters refers to his other half as "pet" but I've been told that this is common to the North East (UK). As ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

What is a systematic way of using Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases?

I'm new to the book, and not sure where to start. How should I as a writer use this tool to improve my writing?
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Including a deceased person in a dedication

What is the convention when you want to dedicate a work to someone who is dead? It is necessary to be explicit about that? For example, I am writing my thesis and would like to dedicate it to my ...
8
votes
5answers
4k views

Is Postscript still useful in the age of email?

"Post script is usually written when a writer forgets to write something on the main body of the letter and wants to add on to what he had written on the letter." But in this age of email and word ...
1
vote
3answers
135 views

Does the word erection have a neutral tone with its non-sexual definition?

I want to write: Our higher-profile projects include the delivery and erection of large exhibition stands for --company name-- at --redacted-- Championship; The emphasis is only to highlight the ...
0
votes
1answer
34 views

How to improve quality of this answer? [closed]

Someone asked on Quora I want to write my autobiography. How do I start? I have given following answer, You must be remembering lots of things when you were young. Just try to list them as you ...
2
votes
1answer
41 views

Satirical prophecy

I have been trying to write stories about possible but improbable futures sort of like Idiocracy or Conan O'Brian's "in the year two thousand" skit. Will sounds too much like must, and could makes ...
4
votes
3answers
81 views

Resource for idioms

I'm not a native English speaker and I have a hard time finding good words sometimes. Sometimes I feel like there should be an idiom for the thing I want to say, but cannot remember it correctly. For ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Placing similes at the beginning and at the end of a sentence

Would the following sentences have different effects on the reader? He washed his hands thoroughly, like a surgeon after an operation. Like a surgeon after an operation, he washed his hands ...
14
votes
12answers
2k views

How do expert writers avoid using “I” when they have to refer to themselves in their article?

How do competent authors, in a refined and perhaps (slightly) formal way, refer to themselves without saying I? I've seen the term "this writer" somewhere. How is it with a native? Are there other ...
6
votes
1answer
867 views

Alternative word for “she”

I am writing about a female person. I noticed most of my sentences start with "she". Is there a way to avoid using this pronoun too many times, and use an alternative word instead? I have tried ...
4
votes
5answers
397 views

Indicating a word choice you're unsure of

I've often had situations where I'm unsure of the correct word to be used, either when writing or proofreading. How can this sense be indicated in writing? Someone mentioned adding a question mark ...
1
vote
3answers
107 views

Does this convey that I recommend the anthology I'm reviewing?

Here's a snipped-up version of a review of an anthology I wrote a while back (full original review here). Most of the stories were pretty good, a few were superb, and there were a few poor ones. For ...
2
votes
3answers
203 views

Thesis writing: how to address “self”

This came up when I was writing my thesis: Usually it is recommended that when writing a thesis, one sticks to passive voice and use sentences that read like "The study showed the effect that blah ...