14
votes
6answers
966 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
6answers
451 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
329 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
328 views

How to deal with common Earth references in a non-Earth setting?

Until now, I have mostly written in settings similar enough to Earth, mostly with human beings. For the first time, I am writing a short story set on a different planet, where the protagonists are not ...
14
votes
7answers
3k views

Technical Writing Software

I'm interested in newer software/software stack to use in writing technical papers. For the longest time I have been use LaTeX to handle this but in looking at getting longer pieces published, such as ...
13
votes
14answers
992 views

What should step one in writing a novel be?

I have had an interest in writing for years, but I don't know where to start or how to organize the process of "becoming a writer." I have plenty of time, but don't know what to do first. This past ...
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
803 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
3k 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
7answers
566 views

Should you read your own genre?

In terms of novel writing, I tend to avoid my own genre, at least for the most part. Some of the reasons why: Genre Blindness / Genre Trap: Too much reading of your own genre blinds you to the ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

Would a paid-for review from Kirkus give me real insight into quality of my manuscript?

As an amateur writer who has just finished my first manuscript, I want a qualified, non-biased, and thorough opinion on whether what I've written is any good. I recently heard about a service offered ...
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 ...
13
votes
5answers
416 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
6answers
1k 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
11k views

Why are papers written in a two column format?

Is there a reason or is it arbitrary/tradition?
13
votes
5answers
333 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
8answers
4k 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
8answers
3k 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 ...
13
votes
6answers
295 views

What are some ways to get to know your characters?

For example, I have recently taken to analyzing all my characters within the scope of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I already had my characters in place; I just used this test as a tool to get in ...
13
votes
3answers
230 views

How much influence do authors have on the titles of their books?

The background to my question: I have always assumed that authors choose their titles, because I consider them an important part of the book, but then I read interviews with some authors who had a ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What needs to be included in a corporate style guide?

What kinds of things need to be included in a corporate style guide that can't already be found in S&W, AP, Chicago Style, etc?
13
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 ...
13
votes
6answers
4k views

What makes first person plural a tricky narrative voice?

I absolutely loved Joshua Ferris's debut novel Then We Came to the End. Critics highly praised his use for the first person plural as a narrator. The work is set in an office and the "we" used ...
13
votes
7answers
1k views

What helpful writing exercises do you use?

The two I do most are dialog and description related. When I meet a person or I'm just sitting people watching, I try to write their description in my head as if I was describing a character in a ...
13
votes
2answers
285 views

What exactly is an editor?

I recently read the assertion that many great works of fiction were chiefly down the contribution of a good editor. I must admit I was a little taken aback by this statement. I had never really ...
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 ...
13
votes
3answers
564 views

When publishing a Fantasy novel, do I look for a specific Fantasy-only publisher, editor, and/or agent?

When attempting to publish a fantasy book, how will I go about selecting a publisher? Is it possible to find a list of publishers that publish specifically fantasy books? Similar to publishers being ...
13
votes
7answers
661 views

How do you track submissions to publishers/markets?

What tools (software or otherwise) or procedures do you use to track the progress of submissions to publishers or other markets? How do you reduce the chance of accidentally (and embarrassingly) ...
13
votes
3answers
422 views

Learning storywriting for videogames - where to start?

Over the years, games that affected me emotionally convinced me that storywriting is a very rewarding work. I thought about learning from novelists. But it seemed that some of the skills, i.e. ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

What marketing techniques are effective for short story eBook collections?

I have a collection of short stories that I'm currently selling in the Amazon Kindle marketplace, and one of the biggest hurdles to actually getting my works read is lack of exposure. My passive plan ...
13
votes
1answer
327 views

Checklist for making sure your writing is Atomic?

Question: Can someone please give me a list of things to check when reviewing a document to make sure that it is atomic. Atomic? Meaning that anyone can start reading at any section in a document ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

What should be in a cover letter for short story submission to a magazine?

It's been about five years since I last submitted any of my work for publication, and my memory of what I was taught then to put in my cover letter is getting rusty. What kind of information should ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the best version control system for a book writer?

I'm a writer—no programming, only prose in text files, mostly in Emacs org-mode, some in markdown-mode. I want to implement a version control system for my writing projects. I work with two types of ...
13
votes
3answers
428 views

Best e-book formatting process?

The question I would like to ask is this: does anyone else have their own process (or one borrowed from elsewhere) that they use for formatting and then creating their e-books? Are you using other ...
13
votes
4answers
524 views

How can I transition from academic writing to fiction writing?

I always receive the same critique when I write fiction. The critique is good for my characters and plot, but I am told that my writing style is stiff, awkward and amateurish. When I wrote academic ...
13
votes
3answers
933 views

Meeting with a respected publisher, what questions should I ask?

At a writing conference I've managed to snag a 15 minute appointment with a publisher (who published Terry Pratchett, my favourite author). I'm a debut fantasy novelist. She will have received a ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

Do publishers really need to translate between UK and US English?

Is there really a need for a book to be translated from UK to US English? I'm nearing completion on my own great work, and just want to know if it is truly worth doing a British and an American ...
13
votes
1answer
9k views

What are widely-used UK-English style guides?

In the UK, what are the equivalents to Chicago Manual of Style, the Associated Press style guide, Yahoo, APA, MLA, etc? Most importantly, what are their intended audiences? (AP is used for ...
13
votes
4answers
196 views

Are there any good magazines about writing?

As in all other fields I'm interested in, I love to have a subscribtion that makes sure some hugely inspirational material gets dropped into my mailbox once in a while. I'm not looking for magazines ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What techniques are used to plot long (multi-novel) story arcs?

As a very visual person, I have always considered plotting a story to be somewhat like knitting or macrame. How do series authors handle multi novel story arcs? Do they just keep throwing out lines ...
12
votes
6answers
5k views

Dialog, just what's the best way to write it?

I've come across the following conventions: "What’s this for?" asked Jake. Sue replied, "None of your business." He shrugged his shoulders. "Well, it looks darned funny sitting here." "It’s ...
12
votes
7answers
8k views

How long should it take to write 100k words?

100,000 words makes a novel. For a perfectionist each line is poetry. How long should it take to write a novel? Not a bestseller. Just enough income to survive in the city. Question subjective? ...
12
votes
8answers
474 views

I'm not a great pantser; what kind of preparation do I need for NaNoWriMo?

I'm very appreciative of NaNoWriMo's "your first step is writing a crappy first draft" credo, and I like the motivation that NaNoWriMo encourages. I'm precisely at the point where what I feel I need ...
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 ...
12
votes
9answers
321 views

Should I translate my own writings into a second language I also know well?

Nabokov was very discouraged when he translated his Lolita into Russian. And he spent half a year on it. So should I try the translation myself?
12
votes
10answers
663 views

Why do writers use pseudonyms?

It's common enough -- recently I was looking for Seanan McGuire's newer book only to find it was published as "Mira Grant". Why would an author do this?
12
votes
8answers
493 views

How much leeway can be expected from an editor regarding my preference for nonstandard punctuation?

As I hope to present a unique style to the world, as I am not especially tolerant of being told I'm doing things "wrong" when that's a subjective statement related to writing style, and as I've never ...
12
votes
8answers
772 views

My cool character is doing nothing for the plot. How do I deal with him?

So I have this great character( not the main protagonist), who is funny and intelligent. Each scene I write for him is a delight. But the problem is, he is doing nothing for the plot. I have tried to ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

How does one avoid bland, generic fantasy while they write?

I have been mulling over the plot and characters for an elaborate fantasy work for a number of years now. The longer I mull things over, the more possessed I am that this story is worth telling. The ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

alternatives to “he said” in dialog

I'm working on my first fiction story. And one mechanical thing I struggle with is how to identify the speakers in dialog without constantly saying "Bob said", "Mary said", etc. Any ideas? That is, I ...

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