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15
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13answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
12answers
718 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 ...
12
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Other options for “had had”? [closed]

Although the use of "had had" is grammatically correct, it doesn't read well and seems awkward to me. Take for example the following sentence: I had had enough of this nonsense and was ready to ...
9
votes
9answers
1k views

How to write realistic female dialogue

I just can't make my dialogue sound like it's being said by a woman. As a friend of mine pointed out, "This woman talks just like you, Jack." I tried imitating the speech patterns of various females ...
9
votes
2answers
278 views

Is it typical to add variation to the words used for a character's name to keep it spicy?

A friend has asked me to read through a chapter of his story and give my opinion. Lets say he has two main characters Mr John de Havilland and Mrs Sally de Havilland. I've noticed that the author ...
7
votes
5answers
304 views

Swearing - Censor, allude, or include?

I was reading this thread, but it didn't quite the answer a question I had about creative writing and whether profanity should be used or not, in a way that is best for creative storytelling. Here's ...
7
votes
4answers
947 views

Common words to avoid when writing formally

I am rather useless at writing formal English and sometimes find that I can come across informal with my choice of words. So I wondered what common words and phrases should be avoided when writing an ...
7
votes
3answers
238 views

Techniques to write for a wider audience

Many years ago, I wrote a short story that used specific information from my cultural background e.g. a belief that if you dream something, it is a form of a vision (superstition, some may say!). This ...
6
votes
2answers
215 views

How to have a character be nameless for the first few paragraphs of a book?

Let me first explain what is going in in the beginning of the story: My main character belongs to a tribal culture that requires their children pass a rite of passage to earn their name. So I'm kind ...
6
votes
4answers
295 views

How to avoid specifying the gender in English when the original text does not specify it?

I'm translating a short story from Korean into English. One problem I frequently face is the 'antecedent pronoun agreement' when the original text leaves the 'gender' of the subject unspecified (and ...
6
votes
3answers
598 views

Is concurrent first person / third person usage absolutely unacceptable?

Background: My understanding about first person / third person is this: choose a voice and maintain it throughout the piece. However, when writing marketing-type information, I find myself switching ...
6
votes
3answers
505 views

Problems with constructing a complex sentence with many ideas in it

I am trying to write a sentence that tells the reader that the works displayed that they are about to see will bring them back and forth between the real and virtual realms, in a figurative manner. ...
6
votes
2answers
150 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
672 views

How to refer to character of focus in a story

I find that when I write, I'm not always sure how to refer to the character of focus. You can only say "he/she" so many times before it feels choppy and repetitive. Constantly referring to character ...
5
votes
4answers
267 views

think, I think, I don't think

I use "think", "I think" and "I don't think" in my writing a lot. Can you suggest a few ways to reduce it and few alternative ways of saying the same thing? Look at the below sentences I have ...
5
votes
1answer
204 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 ...
5
votes
6answers
196 views

A cross-[What] kind of romance?

In the scientific taxonomy of Living Things, you have: Life Domain Kingdom Phylum Class etc. down to Species, and maybe thence to Breed. If I were talking about my neighbor's dog who is half ...
5
votes
3answers
421 views

How can I search for words by meaning/definition?

Where can I search for words using descriptive sentences? For example, now I'm looking for a word meaning "to purify (by hand) a quantity of grain and take away anything that isn't good grain." How ...
4
votes
3answers
444 views

Is it better to omit phrases like: after a moment, after a while, for a moment, etc?

I also find myself writing stuff like this: (dialogue) They remained silent for a moment. A dog barked at the distance. (dialogue) and this: His stomach started to growl after a ...
4
votes
6answers
418 views

What can I use instead of “but” and “however”?

I just noticed I tend to use "but" and 'however" in almost every paragraph. Examples (all of them are from the same story): I almost let everything out. But, funny, I didn't. I didn't want him ...
4
votes
4answers
303 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
225 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
271 views

What is the proper way to use the pronoun “I” without too much repetition?

I found a new job in London and while emailing with my soon-to-be boss, I noticed something that drove me off: the constant repetition of the pronoun I. This is very different from my native language ...
4
votes
3answers
99 views

Floating vs Float

I was writing a short story piece where one person drops something in the water. I got puzzled by the following two choices. Google books seem to be using both of them. Jena and Mike went outside ...
4
votes
2answers
532 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
408 views

When to use the character's name and when to use she/he?

This is the first short story where I'm using actual names for the characters. Here is a sample: "Sorry for the question," Jun said. "But why don' you have friends?" Ling glanced at him, then ...
3
votes
3answers
680 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. Please share some ideas on how you as a writer use Roget's. I love that the book has so many different words and I would like to know how you use ...
3
votes
5answers
221 views

How can this technical message be made clearer?

How could this technical sentenced be improved for better clarity? Cannot translate the ‘name1’ concept1 to the ‘name2’ concept2 because the higher precedence ‘name3’ concept3 also exists, which ...
3
votes
4answers
173 views

What's a word for a person who took a very rough story and made it into a book?

I have written a book. Well, actually, my mother-in-law told the story of her experiences as a German forced laborer in the Soviet Union after World War 2. This was given in German and recorded onto ...
3
votes
6answers
1k views

Replacing actually with a more formal alternative [closed]

I have a sentence that reads as follows, "This study shows that performance of method X and method Y are almost identical in ranking task and method X actually outperforms method Y in user ...
3
votes
4answers
135 views

Is this clearly expressed: “The real power is information”

I want to say that information is the real power in the world. I want to say it in one clean (short) sentence. Is the following good enough? (My mother language isn't English.) The real power is ...
3
votes
5answers
502 views

How do you use “stardust” in a sentence? Is there a better word to describe what I am trying to convey?

I am looking for an expression or a word that will describe my attitude towards a country I've never visited. In this sentence, I want to show to the reader that I've created an idolized and ...
3
votes
3answers
242 views

A tricky sentence to construct

I'm writing a blog post, and with one of the sentences I want to say that I'm not judging anyone differently to how I judge myself. So I thought I'd go with the "hold someone to account" metaphor. ...
3
votes
2answers
238 views

How can I describe the effect of building up a mental exposures? [closed]

The idea that I wanted to convey is that a certain constant exposure to an object would build up a mental library of experiences with the object inside our minds. So, my intention is to write this ...
3
votes
2answers
331 views

Can I use idioms in my personal statement?

I was wondering if I can use expressions such as "I was flooded with ideas", "It would get me closer towards my desired career" or "it worked like a charm" in my personal statement as it is considered ...
3
votes
4answers
137 views

Various flavors for the action “irritate someone”?

I would like to get help to apply different flavors to the action "annoy someone". Please consider the below excerpt. Her mother spoke again, Aarii looked irritated, "Why should I get engaged ...
2
votes
3answers
286 views

Please help me polish this paragraph.

I'm learning English as a foreign language. In one of my writings, one paragraph goes: But it's not saying we just indulge ourselves and turn into wild beasts. We train our brain hard so that we ...
2
votes
3answers
280 views

Is “sparkle” the correct word?

Is sparkle correct in this context? Is "Sparkle" used for positive thoughts or is it also possible to use it for negative thoughts? What is better alternative? (If any) What will happen if we ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

A more specific type of “nervous laughter”

A handful of my friends have an odd trait where they say something and immediately laugh after it in an attempt to judge its success. The topic is usually a rant along the lines of, "These people have ...
2
votes
3answers
77 views

What is best way to accentuate the positive in an endorsement?

I want to write an endorsement for someone. I have one line that begins like this: "I have no doubt that ..." But I don't like the negative connotation of 'no doubt'. My best alternative of ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

When is it correct to capitalize terms/phrases in a personal statement?

I'm writing a personal statement for graduate admissions, and I've a query regarding the use of capitalization in the midst of sentences. For example, is it correct/expected to capitalize the names of ...
2
votes
2answers
296 views

Substitutions for 'which' and 'for which' that maintain the sentence's meaning

I am having a bit of a problem trying to substitute the words which and for without changing too much the meaning/flow of the sentence. I have tried the thesaurus, synonyms, etc with no luck. I ...
2
votes
3answers
141 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
142 views

Would it be weird if I write “a simple sample something”?

Not getting too technical, I am writing a configuration file for a piece of software I have developed. This software allows others to write "services" and attach them to my software. I have written a ...
2
votes
3answers
81 views

My “Bio”. Is the language OK? [closed]

I have a personal website and I have an "about me" text. I though I'd post it here for professionals to tell me if it's OK (English is not my primary language). My name is Primož Kralj, I am 22 ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Opening paragraphs of a short story set in an aquarium

I'm writing a short story about a schoolgirl who is visiting an aquarium (this setting is connected with her past and with the conflict of the story). Sophia found herself walking through a glass ...
2
votes
3answers
14k views

What is the other way to say “stay in touch”? [closed]

In one of the statements that I'm writing, I wanted to express the idea that the Internet has helped one to stay in touch with friends. I wrote it this way: It is undeniable that the Internet has ...
2
votes
0answers
35 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 ...