18
votes
6answers
446 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
18
votes
11answers
1k 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 ...
18
votes
13answers
1k views

How does a code monkey become a novelist?

I have always loved creative writing, but honestly do not see software engineers that write fiction all that often. Heck, I do not see software engineers that read fiction all that often either. To ...
18
votes
7answers
678 views

Should I avoid modern words/phrases in fantasy writing?

When writing, I tend to want to use words or phrases that have meaning in the real world, but wouldn't necessarily have meaning in the world in which I'm writing. For example, in a fantasy world, a ...
18
votes
10answers
1k views

Could I reach the level of good writing style as non-native language speaker?

I currently write in Russian, but I think of switching to English to gain more audience and to play with both languages and linguistics. So could I ever reach the level of native English writers and ...
18
votes
2answers
243 views

Warning signs that a publisher may be shady?

Are there any specific signs (singular or groups of) that I should pay attention to when it comes to publishers? I have read about publishing houses that charge their authors quite large amounts of ...
17
votes
8answers
948 views

Is it frustrating not to know the narrator's gender?

I have written a 1st person piece and reading it I realize it's very difficult to tell if the narrator is male or female. There are one or two clues, and they come pretty late in the piece. Would ...
17
votes
10answers
7k views

Tools for science-based world building?

I tend to lean towards science-fiction and fantasy, so world building matters a lot to me. A while ago, there was a question which asked how to go about organizing your universe, which was ...
17
votes
9answers
2k 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 ...
17
votes
10answers
988 views

Where is a good place to find writing prompts?

I love using writing prompts to come up with story ideas. I'm looking for good sites that have a lot of good writing prompts. One that updates fairly often would be best. :)
17
votes
7answers
1k views

Finding before/after examples where writing has been improved, to learn from

I'd like to see a series of example paragraphs, showing before/after a rewrite, to give me specific examples of how writing can be improved. Is there anywhere that shows such things? I once read the ...
17
votes
4answers
676 views

Should cliffhangers be used in every chapter?

This is not a great question but I use a lot of cliffhangers. And I have a habit of making cliffhangers in the end of every chapter that I write just to hook the reader. The question is, is it a good ...
16
votes
8answers
2k views

What makes writing emotional?

Over the years, my English professors seem to have agreed on one thing: that I'm a superb technical writer, but terrible at eliciting emotional response in something like a story or an argumentative ...
16
votes
9answers
1k views

Tips for expanding my vocabulary?

Looking back through my texts, I noticed that I often use a lot of the same words and resort to using quite a basic vocabulary. I was wondering if there are any good exercises or anything else for ...
16
votes
12answers
645 views

How much planning should go on before beginning writing?

I really want to begin my first novel, but I'm just not sure how clear of an outline I should have before I start. Is a detailed synopsis of each chapter really necessary, or is it enough to just go ...
16
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
13answers
3k views

Can a book be written without an antagonist?

I have had this thought running through my head and wondered what your thoughts were on it. Can a book, a story I should say, be written without an antagonist or antagonistic theme? I have an idea ...
16
votes
7answers
584 views

What are some online guides for starting writers?

I've always wanted to start writing (in a totally amateur way), but whenever I want to start something I instantly get blocked having a lot of questions and doubts. Are there some resources on how to ...
16
votes
7answers
2k views

Taking notes while reading

I read books for fun and to help my writing. I want to remember the cool things I read, but I don't want to distract from the enjoyment of reading. Any suggestions on how to take notes or better ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

What is a beat?

I keep hearing the word "beat" in Writers.SE, as in "... break your scene into beats" from this question. What is a beat? How is it different from a scene?
16
votes
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? ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

Dashes vs. Commas vs. parentheses?

Occasionally I write sentences containing subparts with extra information. I never know how to block off this information from the rest of the sentence. Three ways I have seen are dashes, commas, and ...
16
votes
3answers
422 views

How do authors incorporate languages they don't speak?

In many, many English-language novels I've come across characters who speak other languages, most often French for whatever reason. In many cases, such as with Ulysses and Lolita, this is a simple ...
16
votes
3answers
261 views

How do I write a synopsis?

I have to write a synopsis to submit to an agent. Are there any guidelines for writing a good synopsis?
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there any point in learning to write in cursive?

I remember learning it as a child, and I remember I was told it was important and every kid in the class had to learn it. But now that I think about it, I haven't used cursive for years. What was ...
16
votes
4answers
305 views

Resources about different people types?

I'm native German, but trying to write in English for various reasons. One of the big points in a story is to keep the characters very distinct from each other, and that requires some knowledge about ...
16
votes
1answer
435 views

Pantsing a story?

I heard a writer talking about pantsing a story. What does that mean?
15
votes
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 ...
15
votes
11answers
957 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?
15
votes
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. ...
15
votes
6answers
551 views

How can I make a story bigger?

I have written a first draft of what I want to be a novel -- aiming for 50-70K words. When the ending arrived I was at about 30K. So I essentially have to double the length. My list of notes scattered ...
15
votes
9answers
828 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 ...
15
votes
7answers
1k views

When should one *not* present events in chronological order?

Some stories tell well from beginning to end, all in a neat little line...and some don't. When can a story be improved by using a different order in the telling? Off the top of my head, I'd say ...
15
votes
7answers
371 views

When editing for a person, how much can be changed?

The context is a technical document that is written by one person and then sent out for review by others. The reviewers change word tense, change from active to passive voice, and make other style ...
15
votes
5answers
5k views

Submitting a novel for publication: do editors still expect Courier font?

About ten years ago an agent told me not to submit manuscripts in fonts other than Courier (or Courier New) and to double-space lines. He said editors were prejudiced against manuscripts that looked ...
15
votes
6answers
1k views

Keeping track of multiple plot lines

How do you track several plot lines woven together? I usually run 2 or 3 plot-lines in parallel, so I detail those plots each in a separate document. But as the book goes on, it is sometimes ...
15
votes
3answers
181 views

Can a copyright be made in the name of a fictional writer?

Is it possible to copyright a work in the name of a fictional writer? For example, like Nicolas Bourbaki or some pen name of some author? Can I use my own fictional name to copyright the work?
15
votes
5answers
2k views

Signs of Bad Character Development

When creating a character, what red flags would show me that I'm creating an unbelievable or unsympathetic character? I know that to be believable and sympathetic a character must not lean too much ...
15
votes
4answers
398 views

What's the distinction between “vanity publishing” and “self publishing”?

This question came up on the pros and cons of publishing avenues question; when I tried to look it up, I found the results confusing. For example, SFWA's explanation of publishing types gives the ...
15
votes
5answers
744 views

Best practices for maintaining documented code examples?

A good SDK (software development kit) includes plenty of well-documented examples. It also includes good tutorials and developer guides, which introduce concepts in logical progressions, typically ...
15
votes
4answers
546 views

As a non-native English speaker, Is it better to get translated or get copyedited for long texts?

My English level is average. I can write fluently and my vocabulary is not too limited. With the thought in mind that the end result must be perfect, is it better for me to write my long text (100 ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Are Names of Characters Copyrighted by Authors?

Are names of characters copyrighted by authors? For example, the character "Eragon" from the Inheritance Cycle series, or a name that you've generated using an online name generator that you'd like to ...
15
votes
3answers
365 views

Are agents too busy for new clients? What should I do next?

Most publishers insist that first-time writers approach via a literary agent. However, all the literary agents I have contacted claim to be too busy to take on new clients, as they receive hundreds or ...
14
votes
14answers
989 views

Is it okay to call the reader's target audience stupid?

I'm a tech genre author, and have already published one book on Android development. However, this book was focused more on the developer of the apps, than the user. Now I'm working on my second ...
14
votes
7answers
1k views

Problem: Scenes that are unavoidable, but boring

More specifically: Two of my book series' main characters are (temporarily) diplomats. It's unavoidable to the progress of the plot. But diplomacy is inherently slow and boring. So, the general ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

I'm getting tired of “he said” “she said” in dialogue; how do I get around it?

I get tired of "he said", "she said", "they replied". Is there a better, but still reasonable way, to indicate dialogue?
14
votes
12answers
810 views

For Fantasy Stories, Should You Include a Map At the Beginning of the Book?

If you're writing a fantasy novel, would it be best to include a map of the geography that the story takes place in at the beginning of the book? I've seen quite a lot of fantasy books (Redwall ...
14
votes
9answers
908 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
8answers
523 views

What's a good way to backup your writing?

One of the most important things for writers to do is to back up their work so that in the event of a computer failure, their work isn't lost. But where's a good place to do that? A lot of storage ...

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