15
votes
5answers
8k 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
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 ...
15
votes
6answers
926 views

Will blogging my fiction limit its ability to be traditionally published later?

Somewhere, don't ask me where, I picked up the idea that publishers don't like works that the public has already been able to access. When a family member suggested I post short pieces of fiction to a ...
15
votes
3answers
212 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

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
2answers
2k 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
386 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
17answers
991 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 ...
14
votes
14answers
1k 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
2k 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
12answers
952 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
8answers
22k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
5k views

What does active voice mean?

I was reading on here about passive voice but didn't really know what active voice was. I read some examples but was hoping for more insight. What does it mean to write with the active voice?
14
votes
6answers
60k 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
5k views

What's a typical trilogy structure?

Is there a typical structure for a fantasy trilogy? To be more specific, would they usually follow the three-act structure, with an act per book? And would each book need a self-contained story arc ...
14
votes
4answers
307 views

How to vary writing style?

I just had to edit a 40 page paper and I'm not kidding, there were paragraphs where every sentence started with "This." How do good writers learn to vary their sentence length and wording to flow? I ...
14
votes
2answers
7k views

How to write a prophecy?

No, I'm not actually asking you to tell me how to predict the future! Several pieces of fiction I've read/watched recently have prophecies. One of my favourites is On the fields of Trenzalore, at ...
14
votes
6answers
3k views

Are modern authors still using colons and semicolons in dialogue?

Not sure if it's just my idea but I rarely see colons and semicolons in dialogue (especially in modern novels). Is it because they don't simulate normal speech? Because their use is more a semantic ...
14
votes
4answers
732 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
4answers
376 views

When to accept an editor's rewrite request?

So there's an editor who has accepted a story of mine for publication... but he wants me to change the ending. Normally I'm pretty open to editorial changes, but in this case the proposed changes ...
14
votes
5answers
376 views

Best Way to Develop a Daily Writing Routine?

I would like to go about making a habit of writing to a journal or blog on a daily basis. What techniques or patterns have been the most useful in accomplishing this task?
14
votes
9answers
1k views

How do I overcome a lack of motivation to write at home?

Late October I decided to take the plunge and attempt NaNoWriMo. I haven't done much writing in some time and thought it would be a fun attempt to jump back into things. So far it's been pretty fun ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Can I, as a reader, submit a “Bug Report” for a novel?

I just finished a new release. I encountered a passage in the book that doesn't quite make sense. Just a single sentence that is out of place. Grammatically it is fine, but in context it doesn't seem ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Is Scrivener involved in the editorial process, or is it strictly a writer's development tool?

Is there any reason that an editor should know how to use Scrivener? I generally see manuscripts after they're out of draft but before proofreading. (I'm an editor.) However, I see a lot of talk ...
14
votes
5answers
2k views

How do you come up with non-fiction story ideas?

My biggest problem is that I'm often at a dearth of ideas. I can target a publication or radio show or whatnot once I've got it, but I'm just not good at coming up with them. Tips?
14
votes
5answers
4k views

How should I introduce my characters?

I'm pretty good at creating compelling characters with decent personalities and motivations. I like the comradery vibe, so they're generally already part of a posse of some sort at the beginning of my ...
14
votes
6answers
351 views

Using today's moral compass in fantasy

During Roman and medieval times the use of slaves was very common in most civilisations. Crimes often carried punishments that would fall under "cruel and unusual" today. Is it possible to write a ...
14
votes
2answers
292 views

How can a specific (current) event be made timeless?

There are some movies and some stories that are enjoyable when they're released - but they don't stand up to the test of time very well. I've been wondering about what makes a story timeless, one that ...
14
votes
6answers
825 views

What are some ingredients of really engaging non-fiction?

Some of the best non-fiction writers, in terms of sales at least, seem to be able to write in a really engaging and easy to read style that makes their work hard to put down. For example, ...
14
votes
8answers
320 views

Are there any places to have community story development?

Are there any places or ways a group (general public or individually invited) of people can individually contribute to a communally developed story? For example, a website or collobaration tool ...
14
votes
5answers
17k views

How does one go about publishing erotica, and how far is too far?

I write erotica, it started out as an amusement to see how far I could go, but it became a real passion after three or four stories. I have even published a few online and those stories have become ...
13
votes
12answers
1k views

How do expert writers avoid using “I” when they have to refer to themselves in their article?

How do competent authors, in a refined and perhaps (slightly) formal way, refer to themselves without saying I? I've seen the term "this writer" somewhere. How is it with a native? Are there other ...
13
votes
8answers
513 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 ...
13
votes
9answers
2k views

Time measures in fantasy worlds

I wonder, what could be a good way to provide time measures in a fantasy universe. I don't mean the calendar which is covered in the question: Out of this world... Giving it time?, but measures like ...
13
votes
13answers
729 views

Resources for character development

I'm weak at building characters. What resources are there to create rich characters? I'm thinking beyond name generators: Quirks, biography, diseases like allergies, hobbies and jobs, wealth, omens, ...
13
votes
9answers
2k views

Source ideas for monsters in a fantasy novel?

Does anyone have any suggestions on where to go to get some ideas on different types of monsters that can be created for a fantasy novel? I'm not talking about different variations of zombies or ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

Should one use the legal “shall” in requirements documents and specification documents?

At least in the US, "will" has replaced "shall" in most every context, with the notable exception of the "legal shall". Shall is used instead of will in legal documents to indicate a sense of ...
13
votes
3answers
699 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
899 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 ...
13
votes
8answers
3k views

How do I better handle my nameless main character when trying to retain mystery?

I have written a short story, and the main character is referred to as "he" right the way through - the idea being that this character is very guarded and mysterious. My plan was to not reveal the ...
13
votes
3answers
784 views

How/When to create deliberately boring characters?

Among a million other ambitions under the general heading of "Writing," I have this fantasy where I write a major series, several books long with a giant cast. But I started thinking. In giant series ...
13
votes
5answers
383 views

How do you find your unique style?

Let me preface this by saying I am quite young as writers go, only 20. Oftentimes as I am writing, I find myself simulating the style of whatever I most recently read-- sometimes the clipped and ...
13
votes
8answers
7k views

Why are papers written in a two column format?

Is there a reason or is it arbitrary/tradition?
13
votes
5answers
317 views

Should I start writing on paper first or start directly on the computer?

If I have an excellent idea for a story, would it be wiser to write on paper first or start directly on the computer? There are many different reasons for beginning stories on paper as well as on the ...
13
votes
3answers
231 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
841 views

How do you make a story succeed in spite of an unsympathetic main character?

I'm looking for techniques specific to a story with an unsympathetic main character. Confederacy of Dunces, for example. Why does that work, and why wouldn't that work with a likable hero?
13
votes
8answers
3k views

Resources on plotting mystery stories

I'm looking for books, essays and articles on plotting mystery/detective/investigation stories (and novels). The type of story I'm aiming for is in the vein of Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, or ...
13
votes
5answers
617 views

What is flash fiction?

Is it simply defined by its short word count? Or are there other accepted conventions in flash fiction? If it's just the word count, how short is too short? How long is too long?
13
votes
8answers
2k views

Writing Multiple Novels Simultaneously

I am, at present, 50% of the way through my first novel (17 chapters (and counting), ~55,000 words, ~100 A4 pages) and yet I also had many other (what I think are) wonderful ideas pop into my head for ...

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