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 ...
10
votes
1answer
969 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 ...
12
votes
8answers
723 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
6answers
831 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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

How can I translate my poems in English that it doesn't sound odd/non poetic for English speaker audiences?

There are many translated Persian/Farsi poems in English like The Rubaiyat, by Omar Khayyam, the famous Iranian poet, philosopher, and mathematician, translated by Edward FitzGerald. Unfortunately ...
14
votes
3answers
744 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
10
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 (notice I bring those books up a lot...I think they're brilliant) ...
9
votes
3answers
8k 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
471 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
2answers
5k views

Techniques for writing internal monologue

I've seen the thoughts of a character written in a few different ways: Example 1: Indirect Ender liked it better, though, when two boys played against each other. Then they had to use each other's ...
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 ...
12
votes
3answers
303 views

What are some regular contests unpublished short story authors might enter?

One good way for new authors to become recognized is a contest. What contests exist that: Accept short stories Occur on a regular (annual, semi-annual, bi-annual, etc.) basis Are friendly to ...
11
votes
7answers
14k views

How to start a book off?

I have been working on my book (on and off...) for about 6 months. I have a good bit planned out with the plot, story line, and characters. I even have a small idea on how to start the story but ...
11
votes
4answers
592 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
977 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
2k views

How do I avoid legal repercussions for writing a story based on events in my life?

How do I avoid legal repercussions for writing a story based on events in my life? Mainly, I have experienced events that I would like to share with the world. These events are somewhat disturbing ...
6
votes
2answers
227 views

How/When to include twists when developing plot.

Disclaimer: This is a new question, not an extension of my other questions concerning twists. When I develop fiction, I start with a premise and a theme. I have a general idea of where I'm headed, ...
16
votes
4answers
4k 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
1answer
586 views

Pantsing a story?

I heard a writer talking about pantsing a story. What does that mean?
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. ...
13
votes
3answers
337 views

Writers Communities?

I don't mean writer's circles, or "auditioning sites", although some of these have forums tacked on as a by the by. Usually places to talk about the beardy philosophy of writing are moribund places as ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Where is a good place to find beta readers?

Beta readers are important to perfecting a novel/novella/short story. They give you a fresh set of eyes, offer opinions, and can be a great moral boost. But where can you find good beta readers? Are ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

Self publishing: Do I still need to follow the arbitrary word count limits?

I am thinking of going down the self publishing path. Now looking at most agents and publishers websites, it seems the expected word count for most novels is around 70-90K. Now these word counts may ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

Ways to improve your writing skills

As a CS major I've learned that knowing how to write is critically important, but, I'm not really sure how to improve my writing skills. I'm currently trying to write a tech blog in English, but, ...
8
votes
6answers
490 views

How can I break up a lengthy explanation?

I have a setting in one of my stories where a character has to describe a very long series of events, giving the history of an object so that others know more about it. This not only provides the ...
8
votes
6answers
3k views

Examples for books that don't use (traditional) chapters? [closed]

I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett, and he doesn't use chapters (mostly). Are there any other authors who tend to not use traditional chapters or chapters at all in novels?
6
votes
6answers
425 views

I am an unestablished author with a decent book. Should I publish online, or try to find a 'real' publisher?

As I understand it, 'breaking into the business' is expensive in terms of time. If I have a decent product should I put in the effort, or is self-publishing (e.g. with Amazon) enough?
5
votes
3answers
711 views

Background speech with foreground dialogue

A few days ago, I stumbled upon an issue of the type; meaning I had two characters talking between themselves and another character talking in the background; actually delivering a speech. What the ...
5
votes
7answers
43k views

Converting Word pages to book pages, for novels?

The title says it all. How can I gauge how long my novel would be, if for example I've written 400 single-spaced pages of size 12 Times New Romans in Microsoft Word?
5
votes
5answers
1k views

How can I make a collection of essays / arguments more attractive to publishers?

I've written several essays and am still working on some that I would like to eventually get published. The issues I cover are on a wide range of topics ranging from Scientology to Piracy to ...
5
votes
6answers
1k views

Referring to oneself in first vs. third person in online profiles

Suppose I am writing a post/blog, how should I mention myself? For example, Ray Wenderlich (Site Admin) Ray is an indie software developer currently focusing on iPhone and iPad development. ...
2
votes
6answers
303 views

How do I keep up with current written English language?

I am a speaker of English as a foreign language. I appreciate that English is a living language and that different regions in the world use English differently. I wanted to know how I can keep up with ...
16
votes
7answers
405 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
2answers
3k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
243 views

How do you avoid the problem of a collaborative work having separate voices?

I've not done collaborative writing before, but I've read several works, and sometimes the text strikes me as having a split personality: some parts were clearly written by one author, while others ...
10
votes
1answer
198 views

Getting My Rights Back

Back in the late 90's I wrote a picture book which eventually was published in 2002 by a big name publishing house. The book was critically acclaimed, won an award, and went through a couple of ...
9
votes
9answers
980 views

Should I start work on a sequel before I have sold my book?

I finished the 1st draft of my book, and have put it in the freezer(as I asked about in this question). I was planning to start work on a sequel of the book in the meantime. But I was told by someone ...
9
votes
10answers
1k views

How much sex is allowed in a non-romance novel?

Exactly how much sex would would most publishers allow to be in a today's novel? Does it vary from publisher to a publisher? I'm not talking about romance novels where apparently everything goes. I ...
7
votes
2answers
328 views

Who pays for lyrics or quotes?

Occasionally, novels will include song lyrics in the story, or start out chapters with songs or quotes. In many cases, these lyrics or quotes are from copyrighted materials and would presumably ...
6
votes
4answers
603 views

How much time should you devote to learning the craft?

When is enough, enough? Some writers argue that you don’t need how-to books, just practicing writing. Yet, many writers write beautifully but are incapable of producing a publishable novel, while ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

On copyright laws and plots

I was pondering a lot on the issue with copyrights on plots. Is having an identical plot infringing someone else's copyrighted work? I am fully aware that the character names are copyrighted and ...
6
votes
4answers
614 views

Breaking Into Technical Writing - Where to Start (from a programming background)

I'm currently in the process of expanding my company from doing coding & web development to more technical writing and freelance tech journalism. Although my background is mainly in technology, ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

Do episodes of the show House follow a constant structural pattern?

I've seen a few episodes of House M.D., and I wonder, are the episodes written according to a fixed structural pattern? If so, what are the details, and why does such a structure make the show ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

Breaking into journalism without a degree

I am a fairly experienced writer, but I have little experience in journalistic writing and no formal education in journalism. I believe I can pick up the craft aspects of this form of writing. ...
4
votes
6answers
611 views

Switching from past to present tense to increase narrative speed?

In German, traditionally narrative texts are written in the past tense. When the pace of the action picks up, the narrator can increase immediacy and urgency by switching into the present tense. Is ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

Do I need permission from people I am writing about if I am writing about a true story that was reported in the media?

I am writing a factual book, that will [hopefully] primarily detail real events that have happened in the past, that are related to the subject of the book. The real events have all been reported in ...
4
votes
4answers
371 views

How to minimize language mistakes while writing

While it's true that: Editors do proof reading for you, and word processors have spell checking and grammar checking you do not always have an editor available, and software tools aren't perfect ...

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