26
votes
4answers
16k 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 100,...
25
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
18
votes
9answers
4k views

Any Technique to See if Your Idea is Original?

I usually get quite a lot of ideas for stories, but every time I want to develop them into a full fledged story, I get paranoid about how it might not be an original idea, and how it might be ...
16
votes
5answers
3k views

What book review sites allow authors to send a copy of their books for reviews?

Since I'm published with smaller publications, getting reviews is often one of the best ways to make sales. But what professional book review sites out there will write a review in exchange for a copy ...
15
votes
9answers
2k views

Is there a rule of thumb about the number of pages a work of fiction should have?

To be considered a "real" book, is there a rule of thumb about the number of pages one should have? If it has too few then people call it a short story (e.g., Fahrenheit 451) and if it has too many ...
14
votes
10answers
12k views

Effective techniques for describing pain

I've noticed something in writing: it's difficult to convey pain, and even specific types of pain, to an audience who's comfortably sitting at home in an easy chair. I can hardly imagine pain until ...
10
votes
1answer
715 views

How do I find an affordable editor?

I wrote a few chapters of a book several years ago. How do I find an affordable editor?
9
votes
3answers
567 views

Should my readers be able to identify with the bad guy?

I'm in the process of defining the characters for a novel. It is a crime fiction, with a really strong focus on the characters. I hope to construct really rich, complex and clearly defined characters. ...
15
votes
4answers
837 views

How to avoid hearing “that's me!” from your friends when they read your characters?

I recently asked about getting inside of someone else's head for writing good characters who are noticeably different from myself and received some great answers. One answer suggested that you should ...
14
votes
8answers
604 views

Is it so bad to end up with a “done before” plot?

I'm not delusional about the nature of the science fiction novel I'm (very) slowly working on. A brief run down might be as follows: Set 10's of millennia in Human's future but in a neighbouring ...
6
votes
6answers
1k views

How to introduce a world that's alien to the reader

I'm writing sort of a space-opera and I was wondering what would the best way to explain everything about the world to my readers. The story is kind of a political intrigue, and it would be very easy ...
3
votes
2answers
862 views

Resource for generic plot hooks?

I'm in a long and painful recovery from many years of writer's block. Coming up with even quite simple story ideas costs me unreasonable amount of effort. Sometimes inspiration is generous and I'm ...
12
votes
12answers
2k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
735 views

When *should* I use passive voice?

Is there ever a good time to use passive voice in nonfiction?
7
votes
4answers
872 views

How to stay motivated while writing a story, after the initial burst of enthusiasm?

TL;DR: How do you approach to writing? What part of the work do you enjoy the most? And how do you keep the motivation up? I often ask myself if I really like to write. I mean, I have a lot of ...
2
votes
4answers
161 views

Direct thoughts

The most commonly given advice for using direct thoughts seems to be to format them in italics. I am not really satisfied with that, however. I haven't seen this used anywhere (granted, I do not read ...
2
votes
5answers
297 views

Struggling to writing in English

I always struggle to write my ideas in English. Structuring my work/idea when it comes to writing leaves me blank. Even when I'm very clear about what I want to write, I will still struggle with ...
1
vote
3answers
129 views

Improving my English

I'm keen in writing stories of my imagination. However, my Grammar is not up to the mark. Even I use very simple words and not complicated words like the ones who use in Novels. I read many great ...
8
votes
5answers
898 views

How does one present spoken dialogue as a secondary language to signed speech?

I was starting to leave a comment on this excellent question when I realized I had come up with a second question which was equally intriguing. If you're writing a story where 95% of the ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the best way to learn technical writing?

I have a moderate level of skills in technical writing (TW) having gone through graduation in engineering. I was wondering what would be the best way to sharpen my knowledge. I am also interested in ...
1
vote
2answers
199 views

What free tools are there to help me improve my English?

I am in the process of writing a research paper in Computer Science. Are there any free tools/browser plugins/web sites/latex plugins that would help me improve my English? I am looking for some nice ...
0
votes
6answers
963 views

Does my story beginning hook the reader? (dialogue + narration)?

The following is the opening of a short story I'm writing: Erin stared at Ruth, eyes narrowed. "There was an earthquake last night?" Ruth nodded. "Around 9p.m. The news says it was a 4.3 ...
66
votes
15answers
5k 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, ...
34
votes
16answers
17k 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 ...
20
votes
11answers
2k views

How do you track random thoughts and ideas?

If you're like me, you get story ideas anywhere and everywhere. If I'm at a computer, I'll write down the idea in onenote or outlook or scrivener (depending what's open). If I just have my phone, I'll ...
19
votes
9answers
2k views

What's Essential In A Combat Scene?

I've just been reading a bunch of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books. Although they were the most enjoyable read I'd had in ages I always found myself skimming long segments that described involved ...
12
votes
8answers
9k views

Software for developing and organizing characters

I'm looking for a software that helps me develop and organize the characters for my novel. What I want: something like a filesystem, with a file for each character it should have or allow me to ...
22
votes
2answers
16k 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 ...
9
votes
9answers
3k views

Inventing names for Sci-Fi characters

How can I invent names for fictional characters in a future-setting Sci-Fi story so they won't be connected to any existing culture? I considered the following options: Invent some random names. ...
26
votes
9answers
726 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
18answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

avoiding making all your characters sound the same

We surely all have little quirks to our speech. Like my daughter once criticized my writing for using the word "surely" too much. (See, I used it on this post.) So how do you keep all your characters ...
11
votes
6answers
6k views

How do I cleanly show the passage of time, with multiple, varying time scales?

Semi-complex idea, more easily seen than explained, but here we go. I was re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone recently to get a feel for the way J.K. Rowling passes an entire year in a ...
10
votes
1answer
997 views

how should a writer use version control to track drafts, rewrites, and revisions?

I'm a writer, not a programmer. I'm just now for the first time learning about version control and how it works, and I am wondering how version control could streamline my workflow. In a previous ...
10
votes
3answers
454 views

Pros and Cons of different styles of publishing

I was reading on the meta site that someone thinks we're hostile to self-publishing, and I read over some old questions looking for evidence. I didn't really find signs of hostility, but I certainly ...
10
votes
2answers
494 views

What exactly do I do to get published?

I'm interested to know what the publishing process exactly entails for future reference. I'm in my last year of school and I recently finished my first substantial piece of creative writing (a subject ...
12
votes
8answers
744 views

What are the best authors to read if you want to get better at humor and comedy in writing?

I’ve read humor like Three Men in a Boat and PG Woodhouse, but those comes nowhere close to folks like Dave Barry or Rory Blyth. What are some sources, blogs, books, articles, authors, etc. that you ...
11
votes
3answers
14k views

Where can I find sales numbers for books?

I'm a writer, working on a non-fiction book proposal. Finding public, free sales numbers for comparable titles is nearly impossible. BookScan is a subscriber service run by Nielsen. "Above the ...
11
votes
6answers
836 views

Time management for part-time writing

I'm currently writing a book, and would eventually hope to be a writer as a career. However, at the moment I'm struggling to find the time and the discipline to actually sit down and write ...
16
votes
7answers
86k views

What are the advantages and disadvantages of writing in first person?

A lot of people are either on the side of first person or the side of third person. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of writing in first person for fiction?
14
votes
4answers
780 views

Feedback: What to use and what to ignore?

I posted my novel online for critique. And stumbled with the obvious question: when should I consider a feedback and when should I ignore it? This is what I'm doing so far: If more than two people ...
13
votes
6answers
1k views

What is the term for an accessible character that knows nothing?

In a lot of books, movies, or TV shows, there will be a character that knows little to nothing about the subject at hand. Most cop shows and medical shows will have someone who doesn't know very ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Pitfalls of writing a main character of different gender to the author, specifically first-person perspective?

This is my first question on here, so bear with me, if you will. My question is in two-parts: a) When writing in first-person, is it wise to choose a main character of a different gender to yourself ...
12
votes
10answers
2k views

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

I have written some short stories (in fact, they are flash fiction). When I'm writing short stories, the ideas and the structure come to my mind by themselves. Something different happens when I try ...
9
votes
4answers
479 views

How do I successfully structure a long fiction piece?

I’ve ‘completed’ three novels – a thriller, a coming-of-age story, and a mystery. I’ve had expert readers for all three including Sue Grafton who read two of them. All the expert readers have the same ...
9
votes
3answers
9k views

How to create varying, yet realistic, speech patterns

Different characters speak differently. If someone reads me a letter written by an immediate relative, I can tell right away who wrote it. I believe --and correct me if I'm wrong-- that giving each ...
17
votes
8answers
36k views

Should I indent the first line of the first paragraph in a chapter?

I was reading a thesis report of a friend and I noticed that he didn't indent the first line of the first paragraph in each chapter. I don't remember noticing it anywhere before until I saw it there ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Can I shop an unfinished novel?

I've been writing a novel that addresses some very current themes. My belief is that if I can get it out there quickly, it will succeed well. I'm working on it frantically, but will agents consider ...
11
votes
4answers
596 views

When should I avoid the passive voice? When might I use it?

An opinion exists that overusing of the passive voice can make writing harder for reading and understanding. Is it true for all kinds of writing? How to follow this advice without overemphasizing it? ...
10
votes
4answers
997 views

Ways for main character to influence world following their death

The main character of a story dies before the story itself ends. Nothing new here, you can keep a story interesting following their death. But I have an additional requirement: The dead main character ...

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