10
votes
3answers
221 views

What disciplines/habits are used to stay focussed on one novel over a long period of time?

One of my biggest issues is staying focussed on a single novel. My imagination is always creating new and wonderful ideas. I write a few chapters on this story, a few on that story, but never ...
10
votes
5answers
4k views

How much time do you spend writing one page on average? [closed]

I'm writing a technical book about one programming technology and would like to compare how much time other authors spend on one page (on average). I rarely write a page and am done with it, quite ...
9
votes
9answers
2k views

How to write realistic female dialogue

I just can't make my dialogue sound like it's being said by a woman. As a friend of mine pointed out, "This woman talks just like you, Jack." I tried imitating the speech patterns of various females ...
7
votes
6answers
4k views

Coming up with names for species in fiction?

When you are writing a story that is set in a fantasy world (maybe our world with just one made-up element, or a completely different world), what is a good way to come up with names for species that ...
7
votes
14answers
2k views

Is the iPad a convenient medium for writing work?

Does anyone here write on an iPad at all? The iPad 2G is due this summer and I have waited since March 2010 already, so I am planning to purchase one. However, I don't really need an iPad at all; ...
7
votes
7answers
1k views

What is the most cost effective way for me to get my book printed?

I have written a book that I would like to get printed. I am not looking to have it published at this time but would like to get a limited number of copies (100-200) printed up for family and friends. ...
6
votes
6answers
305 views

Book recommendations for writing better technical papers

My employer has presented me with two books to read to help me write better technical papers and emails. Essentials of English Grammar and Handbook of English Grammar and Usage. I have read through ...
6
votes
1answer
180 views

What are tips / techniques to manage the consistency of a plot encompassing several subplots ?

When I lay out a plot consisting of interwoven threads, one of the most annoying things is to manage effectively the factual, logical consistency of the whole. In order to be more effective and ...
5
votes
1answer
377 views

Alternative word for “she”

I am writing about a female person. I noticed most of my sentences start with "she". Is there a way to avoid using this pronoun too many times, and use an alternative word instead? I have tried ...
5
votes
4answers
607 views

How can I write better code-based reference documentation for programming interfaces?

Programmers can write comments in code that can be automatically turned into API documentation (like Javadoc). All I have to do is add some comments explaining what a class or method does and what ...
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 ...
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 ...
12
votes
1answer
6k 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 ...
12
votes
10answers
627 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
438 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
7answers
521 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) ...
11
votes
7answers
7k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

What's a good writing software for Android phones/tablets?

Everyone once in a while while I'm out I come up with something I want to add to my story. Are there any good writing apps for Android phones and tablets? Most places that recommend mobile writing ...
10
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
10
votes
9answers
404 views

Sympathetic portrayal of devout, rule-abiding characters

I'm having trouble portraying religious, devout characters as protagonists or viewpoint characters. When I try, I get the sense that the reader - not sharing the characters' beliefs - will have ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

What's with all the hate on adjectives and adverbs?

Ok, I'm starting to get a feel for this, but I'm hoping someone can explain it more clearly for me. I learned in all my English classes that sensory imagery is important, which naturally involves a ...
9
votes
5answers
516 views

How can I learn how to outline, so I can write like an architect?

I've just watched one part of Brandon Sanderson's lecture on writing, the section entitled Gardeners & Architects and I realised I'm a Gardener, almost exclusively. This often ends up with me ...
7
votes
6answers
2k views

Killing off a character: deciding if, when and how

Killing off a character is a serious issue. Secondary characters or even extras can pass away without too much negative response from the readers but main characters are a whole different matter. It ...
7
votes
4answers
405 views

What to do if I end up confused by my own plot because of 'trying to be original' or 'trying to make the story more deep'?

Sometimes, I find myself in the dilemma that I come out with a plot that tells exactly what I want to say. But then, I try to modify it in order to make it more original (at least, less similar than ...
6
votes
1answer
340 views

How can I find short-story spinoffs for my fantasy epic?

I write epic fantasy; I've written two trilogies in a joint setting, and am writing further books in the same setting. I would like to start writing short stories for my setting as well - stories ...
6
votes
3answers
388 views

How do I start editing my novel?

I had written the first draft of my book and put it in the freezer almost 6 weeks ago. Yesterday I took it out, and after going through a first read to note my reactions, I have decided to start work ...
5
votes
8answers
1k views

Software for collaborative writing for a small team

I'm working on a writing project with a friend, and we're looking for some kind of (preferably cloud-based) project management and version control software so each of us can see how far the other has ...
5
votes
2answers
308 views

How do you come up with a fictional character name in a historical era/region?

How do you research to find character names? Especially when it's long ago, not European, and the culture was totally different from what the region has now. For example, how would you generate names ...
4
votes
4answers
629 views

I suck at plots. Is there a way to sort of train oneself to think of creative plots, specifically in scifi?

I'm pretty good in the writing department as far as prose, it's just that I'll sit down and have no idea what to write. Perhaps it's a creative problem, I just don't know. I cannot figure out any ...
22
votes
7answers
2k views

Decide on a theme/overarching meaning before writing a short story?

When writing a short-story, is it typically a better practice to construct a point to exemplify through the short-story when writing to highlight a certain truth? In other words, construct the ...
20
votes
7answers
2k views

Why does an author need an editor?

I'm firmly in the camp of "your novel needs an editor, and that editor better not be yourself." But recently I was asked why that was, and I couldn't articulate an answer that was passable. Young ...
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 ...
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
542 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 ...
15
votes
6answers
593 views

How can I effectively invent a language?

I want to make a particular language that adapts to the story. And the language has to have x and y and e characteristics for example. Is there a protocol to follow on the process of making a ...
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 ...
13
votes
5answers
815 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?
12
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 ...
12
votes
5answers
688 views

When is a prologue useful?

Prologues tend to get a bad rap on the internet, and sometimes for good reason. They're often used by as an excuse to start a novel with an info-dump. However, it seems to me that people often ...
12
votes
5answers
559 views

Can I self-publish, and how much would it cost?

With the barrier to having a publisher sign a new author seemingly high, especially without prior success or experience, are there any good author-funded alternatives out there to the repeated mailing ...
12
votes
5answers
313 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
793 views

Striking the balance between dialogue and narrative

I am participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. I have never in my life written so much of a single story. Although I am supposed to tell my inner editor to shut up this month, she is ...
11
votes
3answers
151 views

How can I keep up with my co-author's detail creation?

Keeping track of details invented for a work of fiction is never simple, often requiring writing bibles and continuity editors. But when two people are working on the same book simultaneously, then ...
11
votes
4answers
209 views

What are the usual methods for getting a daily word count?

Do, normally, only words which are eventually to be kept count, or do you also count rewrites? For example, if I rewrite a 50 word paragraph 10 times, is my daily count up to 50 or up to 500?
11
votes
9answers
520 views

Initial Writing Medium

I am curious which is better for a beginning writer (or writer) starting a new story. Pen and paper or the computer? Pen & Paper is a lot more sketchy (like the layout of this site) which gives ...
11
votes
8answers
393 views

What is Literary Fiction?

I keep hearing about literary fiction, and how it is so much better than genre fiction. What exactly is literary fiction?
10
votes
4answers
693 views

How to continue someone else's story gracefully, with fan-fiction?

I've been juggling some ideas for NaNoWriMo and one of them is a Doctor Who story. Now I've not read a great deal of fan fiction but I've never read any that I'd say that compares to the original, and ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

How often do writers develop characters before plot, and why?

As someone who writes a little as a hobby, this is something that I haven't really thought about until just recently, but... Is it common for a writer to develop characters before actually coming up ...
10
votes
5answers
613 views

Switching POV: Should it ever be done at all?

When I started, I had a nasty habit of hopping from perspective to perspective to perspective. I forced myself down to one perspective per chapter, but I still wonder if it's acceptable to do it at ...

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