20
votes
7answers
489 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
2k 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. ...
19
votes
5answers
6k 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 ...
19
votes
7answers
847 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 ...
19
votes
2answers
289 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 ...
19
votes
3answers
5k views

Using the real world in writing

To what extent can you use locations, businesses, etc. from the real world in fiction? I know someone cannot copyright a city, but what about a particular location in the city that's private. Can I ...
18
votes
6answers
500 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
8answers
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 ...
18
votes
10answers
8k 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 ...
18
votes
9answers
3k 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 ...
18
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 ...
18
votes
14answers
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
10answers
1k 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
12answers
791 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 ...
17
votes
8answers
1k 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
13answers
4k 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 ...
17
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
525 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
692 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
17
votes
7answers
2k 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
350 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
14answers
2k views

How to decide whether a story is worth writing?

Sometimes I have inspiration for a story. In random pieces of spare time I daydream more and more details until I am satisfied with the concept and then I don't take it any farther. In my head, the ...
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
5answers
2k 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?
16
votes
9answers
2k 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
10answers
2k views

What can I do to make my writing fit the 1950s?

I'm working on a project (for a game) that needs to have a strongly 1950s feel. I, however, was born in the 1980s, so my writing has plenty of things that would sound out of place in the 1950s. For ...
16
votes
9answers
933 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 ...
16
votes
7answers
390 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 ...
16
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
8answers
222k views

Right usage of “P.S.” in Emails

I've been wondering this for a while. What is the correct usage of "P.S." in e-mails? Where should and shouldn't it be used?
16
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
3k 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
568 views

Is there a quick way to know I have created a Mary Sue?

For those who don't know what a Mary Sue is: see here. The problem is, there are far too many ways a character can be a Mary Sue, as seen here. Many websites that offer tests to see if your ...
16
votes
7answers
967 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 ...
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
3answers
274 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
2k 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
1answer
518 views

Pantsing a story?

I heard a writer talking about pantsing a story. What does that mean?
16
votes
4answers
578 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
723 views

Techniques to disguise authorship of text

As Wikipedia and at least one answer on this site suggest, the name stylometry encompasses certain techniques to determine authorship of text. Although stylometry itself appears to require a certain ...
15
votes
17answers
1k views

Help! I've got Writer's Block

I really want to write, but as soon as I sit down and set pen to paper, my mind goes blank. I can't think of anything to write. Sometimes I stare at my screen for hours; doesn't help. If I do think ...
15
votes
13answers
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 ...
15
votes
11answers
1k 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
3k 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
9answers
1k 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 ...

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