91
votes
20answers
4k 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 ...
58
votes
18answers
4k views

Do You Use Any Version Controlling Software/Methods As Writers?

As writers, do you use any version controlling software to track and monitor what you write? For example, if you accidentally deleted or overwritten a paragraph that you'd like to have it back? ...
53
votes
13answers
4k views

What's the modern way to handle gender in tech writing?

Back in my day, I was taught to use masculine pronouns. The user chooses a password, and then he types it in the text box. I'm fine with that. but a male coworker insists on using he/she, ...
46
votes
20answers
2k views

How to overcome the fact that I can't write?

My problem is that I basically suck at writing. Especially prose. Part of it is basically because I don't practice as much as I could. Part of it is because I'm just not talented in that way. ...
38
votes
16answers
5k views

Should you use two spaces after a period, or just a single one?

I had heard some debate on this topic, and I had always learned to use two spaces after a period. But it would seem there is an argument against it. However, I do not understand what the issue is ...
38
votes
39answers
2k views

What are good reads about writing?

What do you recommend as reading material to improve writing for beginners? If one recommendation is put per answer and can be voted separately a good list of resources should build up.
35
votes
20answers
3k views

How to name the characters of your story?

I find it hard to name my characters. Every normal name sounds funny if applied to a product of my fantasy. If I take a common name, I may get the image of someone I know into my head. And that may ...
34
votes
10answers
3k 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 ...
33
votes
6answers
1k views

I have written my first novel and I think it's ready. What next?

I've completed my first novel and done as much editing as I think I can as the author. What should I do next in order to get this out there?
29
votes
14answers
5k views

Do Writers Use LaTex/TeX for writing?

I'm quite interested in the LaTex/TeX system and am wondering if any other fellow writers use it frequently to write in.
28
votes
11answers
800 views

How do I recover my confidence after a harsh writing group?

Having majored in writing in my undergraduate studies, I spent lots of time getting critiques from my fellow students, some of whom are now published and many of whom were excellent writers. The ...
28
votes
10answers
655k views

How to write a polite reminder email?

What guidelines and language should be used to write a polite reminder email. Ideally I would like it to be: Respectful Not too formal In particular I am thinking in terms of business, and ...
27
votes
6answers
3k views

“All of a sudden…” ?

I am writing a manuscript for a novel. It's my first attempt, and often I find myself wanting to write "suddenly" or "all of a sudden". I do this when I want the scene to change in an instant, or ...
26
votes
16answers
3k views

How can I catch more errors when I proofread?

I have a problem where I often proof my own writing and I don't catch all the errors while I am reading through it. I often miss entire words out of sentences or find myself repeating words. I can ...
26
votes
6answers
2k views

Why do hardcover books retail for more than three times the cost of softcover books?

One thing I've noticed while browsing bookstores is that hardcover books tend to cost more than softcover ones. Oftentimes a hardcover book that's five times the price of a paperback doesn't have ...
26
votes
9answers
1k views

How does one deal with world builder's syndrome?

I am a planner in the extreme. I tend to drift toward fantasy oriented novels when writing; it's just what comes out. This means that I do quite a bit of planning for the world that the story will be ...
26
votes
14answers
10k views

Is there any good time-line software out there?

I write mostly speculative fiction, and use Scrivener for writing and note-taking. But I'm looking to start crafting timelines to keep track of the exact year and months events in the distant and ...
26
votes
7answers
811 views

When is it okay to tell?

One of the major mantras of writing fiction is "show, don't tell". Is it ever okay to tell? When?
26
votes
3answers
726 views

Explicitly correcting yourself while writing - how appropriate is it ?

Like so: He worries – well, not worries, but laments a little – that he senses people don't read Henry James anymore (sentence source: Monkey See, NPR Blogs ) I've used this style myself ...
25
votes
9answers
643 views

Self Editing tips/tricks

I write a daily piece and have been doing so for over 8 years. I think my writing has gotten better, but I still find mistakes at times, or more likely, my readers find mistakes. Does anyone have ...
25
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
24
votes
6answers
2k views

Writing first programming book

I was recently asked if I was interested in writing a book for a pretty reputable publisher, which of course I accepted. I am not a writer by trade, I am a software developer with some technical ...
24
votes
4answers
11k views

How Much Can You Make From Writing a Book?

Obviously this question has a lot of different answers. I'm interested in the typical total profit that a writer might expect to see from: A NYT Bestseller A diet or self-help book that sells ...
24
votes
4answers
439 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 ...
24
votes
4answers
364 views

How do I find an agent?

I finished my novel, and everyone I've talked to says I need an agent. How do I find one?
23
votes
7answers
3k views

Do most novels not get published?

If a person writes a novel, grammar alright, decent story, word count, etc. everything okay, Is it a crap shoot for that person to get published? Is it just like the lottery or maybe better ...
23
votes
10answers
4k views

Is it worth switching to Dvorak?

I've occasionally thought about trying the Dvorak keyboard layout to improve my writing speed. However, I wonder if the speed gain is really worth the initial learning curve. I'm curious if anyone ...
23
votes
7answers
1k views

How does one write a character smarter than oneself?

How does one write a "genius" character? I don't mean a scientific genius, or someone who is a prodigious talent in math or chess or something like that. I mean the following scenario (or an ...
23
votes
6answers
1k views

Getting Inside Someone Else's Head

A common problem for novice fiction writers, and one that I feel that I myself haven't quite graduated from, is always writing characters who are like the author. Each character is merely some facet ...
22
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?
22
votes
6answers
1k views

Decide on a theme/overarching meaning before writing a short story?

When writing a short-story, is it typically a better practice to construct a point to exemplify through the short-story when writing to highlight a certain truth? In other words, construct the ...
22
votes
10answers
533 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 ...
22
votes
7answers
491 views

What are the first things I should do with an idea?

I have a lot of ideas for things I want to write, but I usually end up getting lost in a stream-of-consciousness and either lose interest in the idea, or suddenly feel overwhelmed by the breadth of ...
21
votes
17answers
1k views

Fan Fiction: a crutch or a good start?

Writing is writing, but I am not confident enough to take on creating a whole world from scratch. Will writing fanfic or writing in other shared world spaces be beneficial, or will it simply allow me ...
21
votes
9answers
892 views

Are there jobs that involve creative writing in the software industry?

I've been a developer for some years now, but I've realized that I need a job where I can be more creative (and hopefully work more with people (except dba's)). Since I love writing, but at the same ...
21
votes
5answers
2k views

So I finished my novel. Now what do I do?

A few days ago I finished the first draft of my current novel project after a few months of work, finishing at 83,212 words. Now what should I do with it? So obviously I need to edit it. Should I ...
21
votes
9answers
507 views

Do I need to register my work to retain copyright?

What are the legal issues when submitting work to publishers? is there a risk of having my work stolen? How can you protect yourself from this? Is there an international "law" for this or is it ...
20
votes
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 ...
20
votes
9answers
5k views

Killing the protagonist - should it be done?

I am an aspiring author, but I have written several short 'test novels.' With each of those, it became increasingly clear how you have to develop the main character, the protagonist. After all, the ...
20
votes
2answers
573 views

When should modifiers be avoided?

I've come across this Mark Twain quote: When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them -- then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close ...
20
votes
12answers
27k views

What is a normal length for a chapter?

I've always had trouble determining whether my chapters are within the same size realm as chapters in standard books. Since it isn't exactly feasible to count the number of words in a chapter of ...
20
votes
8answers
5k views

Best tool to create ebooks?

What is a recommended tool for turning a completed manuscript (a Word document) into an ebook (specifically, an EPUB file or Kindle-compatible Mobipocket file)? I would prefer something that: ...
20
votes
10answers
752 views

How do I construct a plot out of my many setting/character details?

In my creative writing, I typically am inspired by short interactions between things: An overheard conversation. A person's jealousy of a friend's talent. A humorous misinterpretation... I tend to ...
20
votes
7answers
409 views

How can one effectively organize scenes and snippets?

I tend to write bits of stories out of order. If I have a great idea for a scene, I want to get it down it while I have it, even if it doesn't come until three chapters later than the part I'm on ...
20
votes
10answers
1k views

Organizing your Universe?

When writing, I always have tons of ideas about the universe I'm creating as a whole: People, Places, Timelines. I'm just struggling to organize it. I'd like to avoid inconsistencies in later ...
20
votes
8answers
2k views

How to make travel scenes interesting without adding needless plot diversions?

I have always had a problem with travel in my stories. Since I'm writing an epic fantasy novel, travel is a big theme as characters often have to move from where they are to where the plot dictates. ...
20
votes
5answers
569 views

Publishing for Kindle

I am very keen to get into writing, and have come up with several outline plots for short stories, novels and even trilogies. However, one hurdle, which I expect is not uncommon for most new authors, ...
19
votes
17answers
2k views

Are complex sentences uncommon or unwanted in English?

I wrote my opinion essay using a lot of different complex grammatical structures, linking words and so on, and some of the sentences were even over 4 lines long. However, I was afterwards told by my ...
19
votes
6answers
2k views

What are the most common style manuals?

From Wikipedia: A style guide or style manual is a set of standards for the writing and design of documents, either for general use or for a specific publication, organization or field. ...
19
votes
2answers
6k views

Which words should not be capitalized in Title Case?

I would need a list of all words that are not capitalized in English titles. I would also like to make sure if it's true, that all first and last words of a title are capitalized no matter what. I'd ...

15 30 50 per page