25
votes
11answers
9k views

Killing the protagonist - should it be done?

I am an aspiring author, but I have written several short 'test novels.' With each of those, it became increasingly clear how you have to develop the main character, the protagonist. After all, the ...
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 ...
14
votes
2answers
10k 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 journalists,...
14
votes
5answers
388 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?
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 ...
7
votes
6answers
343 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
840 views

Is it wise to publish a novel as an e-book, and how would I do it?

I'm considering publishing my novel as an e-book (since I'm very techy) before I take the usual "paperback" route. Is this a wise choice? Also what would I need to do? (steps).
29
votes
13answers
9k views

Is it worth switching to Dvorak?

I've occasionally thought about trying the Dvorak keyboard layout to improve my writing speed. However, I wonder if the speed gain is really worth the initial learning curve. I'm curious if anyone ...
18
votes
14answers
2k 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
614 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 ...
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
3answers
2k 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?
13
votes
4answers
442 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
8answers
802 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
10answers
484 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?
12
votes
9answers
1k views

Tips for humor writing

Are there any techniques you can use while brainstorming to find humor to include in an article?
11
votes
5answers
321 views

What can one do to get the most from limited writing time?

I do make an effort to write every day, and usually succeed, but I just have too much going on in my life right now to give my writing the time it would like to have. When I do have time, blog posts, ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Finding the 'voice' of a character

This is a very general question that I want to throw out there just to get some insight into different approaches used. I have my own, but am intrigued to know what others might try. I'm wondering ...
11
votes
4answers
500 views

How do you avoid the problem of all the characters in your story sounding the same?

There's a common flaw that I can easily detect in amateur writing, (and of course my own) which essentially boils down to all the characters "sounding the same", dialogue-wise anyway. Trying to ...
8
votes
8answers
2k views

A rhyming dictionary worth bookmarking online or purchasing?

Has anyone come across any really good rhyming dictionaries? If so, what makes it worth having/bookmarking? (eg. completeness/ease of use/absence of really sketchy suggestions)
6
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
6
votes
10answers
3k views

Why can't I write something longer than a few pages?

I write short stories, a lot of short-shorts. I would say the longest thing I've actually finished writing is "Lord of Snakes", which was about 19 pages typed. (And not even very good.) So I've always ...
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 ...
16
votes
3answers
290 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?
15
votes
3answers
1k 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
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
7answers
678 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) ...
12
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 ...
12
votes
4answers
541 views

How do you map out your storyline?

There are various ways for mapping out the storyline that you will use for a story. One of them is to create a bullet-point outline, which would theoretically be useful because of the hierarchy system ...
12
votes
3answers
374 views

Lists of Suggested Magazines to Submit To

I recently began writing poetry again. I would like to look into submitting my poems to a magazine. Where can I find a list of literary magazines through which I could sort to find a possible fit?
11
votes
7answers
3k 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
2answers
793 views

Is publishing to Amazon Kindle-alternative eBook markets worth the time and effort?

I have published a few collection Kindle eBooks, and am planning on publishing at least 3 more in the not-too-distant future. While my experience with the Kindle marketplace has been mostly positive, ...
10
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 ...
10
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
239 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 finish....
9
votes
3answers
3k 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
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 ...
8
votes
6answers
7k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
225 views

How do I go about finding a writing group?

Any websites that list writing groups by geographic location, or genre? Should I try libraries or something? Fan forums of a favourite author? Are there "virtual" writing groups (by email or chat ...
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; ...
6
votes
1answer
217 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 ...
6
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 ...
6
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
23
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 ...
19
votes
4answers
7k 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
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
5k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
659 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
620 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 ...
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 ...

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