11
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
7answers
2k views

Why is “It was a dark and stormy night..” not a good opening?

Also, why has it spawned an award for bad writing?
11
votes
8answers
589 views

What's the benefit of using invented languages in-story?

I'm working on a fictional story set in a fantastical (although coherent) universe; I'm used to seeing, in works like this, invented languages: Tolkien's languages for The Lord of the Rings, or ...
11
votes
12answers
15k views

Are there any good tablets out there for writing/editing?

I like being able to take my work anywhere with me, but sometimes my laptop is just too big to take with me. Battery life on tablets seem to be much better than laptops as well. Are there any tablets ...
11
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
7answers
8k 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
7answers
348 views

Do books have to be written in sequence?

So can we write the interesting action bits first, then add in the in between stuff, that maybe needed to understand the story or characters, but isnt so exciting by itself? For example the ...
11
votes
6answers
16k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
526 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? ...
11
votes
5answers
272 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
4answers
354 views

2nd Draft- Fix spelling/grammar or plot first?

I just finished the first draft of my novel, and Im going to put it away for at least a month. The book has a lot of spelling / grammatical errors, as in true Nanowrimo style, I kept typing without ...
11
votes
2answers
671 views

What are advantages/disadvantages to use a CC-license for your writings?

What are the implications, if I choose a Creative-Commons-license for my work? Cory Doctorow seems fine with this. Is this exceptional?
11
votes
3answers
655 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
426 views

How do you vary dialogue within stories?

How do you vary dialogue within stories? I often find myself writing "'sentence/dialogue' said character", and it sometimes gets really repetitive. How is this managed? These are the only words that ...
11
votes
3answers
230 views

Is it a good idea to write a summary of a plot before writing the full version?

Sometimes when I write a plot I get confused about the motivations of the characters and how events connect as I change elements. Is it a good idea to write a summary first in order to organise ...
11
votes
8answers
381 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?
11
votes
2answers
578 views

Do authors get paid for quotes and attributions used on book covers?

I think I know the answer to this, and my guess is "No", but I don't have a definitive reason what that guess is. When you see on the cover of a book, not from a newspaper or reviewer, but from ...
11
votes
5answers
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 ...
11
votes
3answers
306 views

At what point does an author deal with an editor?

I'm just wondering: at which point do you have to deal with the editor, and what are the (possible) consequences? That is, when is the editor's involvement greatest? After or before a deal? I'd ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

Other options for “had had”? [closed]

Although the use of "had had" is grammatically correct, it doesn't read well and seems awkward to me. Take for example the following sentence: I had had enough of this nonsense and was ready to ...
11
votes
2answers
419 views

Waiting for response to full MS

About three months ago, an agent that I had queried responded with a request for the full manuscript of the novel that I had written to her about. It's now been nearly three months, and I haven't ...
11
votes
9answers
499 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
3answers
9k 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 ...
11
votes
9answers
1k views

Where to find some good examples of combat or action scenes?

I always learn a lot about about writing by reading other works and following their examples. Right now I'm very bad at writing action scenes; the best I can do is write around them, describing the ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Software for developing and organizing characters

I'm looking for a software that helps me develop and organize the characters for my novel. What I want: something like a filesystem, with a file for each character it should have or allow me to ...
11
votes
6answers
5k 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
3answers
390 views

Should I remove scenes that I myself find “boring”?

Sometimes, I find myself writing a scene that does everything I think it should do: reveal details about the protagonist, drive the plot forward, show other elements related to the story, etc. There's ...
11
votes
3answers
146 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
6answers
205 views

Avoiding foot&note disease

In his answer to Our note in footnote of a book, Malvolio writes: I hate numbered foot-notes personally, they're very distracting Which I agree with, but his recommendation, to use endnotes, I ...
11
votes
2answers
679 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
4answers
201 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
4answers
245 views

How do I avoid tech/social errors in near-future fiction?

Not long ago I read a novel set in the near future (mid-21st century). My suspension of disbelief was totally fine with time travel, an implanted "universal translator" of sorts, major medical ...
11
votes
3answers
260 views

When do I explain my created world scenario in a prologue vs. letting it unfold in the story?

Let's say I'm creating a unique world for my book. New planet, maybe new species, complex society with complex rules, history, government, and so on. Some of these details are absolutely necessary to ...
11
votes
1answer
5k views

What binding and paper should be used on a self-printed novel?

The last time I printed a book I just needed something done cheaply and quickly. The print store used very bright, glossy office paper (the same that they use for office documents) and used ...
11
votes
1answer
23k views

What does Character development actually mean?

I keep hearing the terms "character development" and "characterisation", but I'm still not sure what they mean? How does one "develop" a character?
11
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
971 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
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 ...
11
votes
4answers
3k views

Writing a programming book: how to present directory structures

What is good/preferred way of presenting directory trees in programming books? My main criteria are following: It should be readable and intuitive It shouldn't take too much page space It ...
11
votes
3answers
108 views

Where can subject matter experts volunteer to work on proofing the technical details in fiction?

I am not a writer (yet!), but I have been working in the computer field for over 10 years and would love to put in some time volunteering my services as a subject matter expert (SME) for programming ...
11
votes
2answers
4k views

Citing parts of a thesis or dissertation using IEEE referencing

I truly hope I'm not asking this question in the wrong place. I've found myself extensively referencing parts of theses and dissertations for my own research paper. [The IEEE editorial style ...
11
votes
1answer
102 views

Where to find comparative information about publishers?

Is there any reference for comparing publishers (or at least major ones)? Writers choose a publisher based on fame or by chance, but is there any system for rank of publishers? Or providing ...
11
votes
2answers
221 views

How do you build good per-book *and* global indexes?

For our SDK, we generate individual documents (PDFs) and one big HTML doc set (CHM file) from the same Docbook source. Each book has an index, and the HTML version has an integrated index that is the ...
10
votes
6answers
811 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 ...
10
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
736 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
320 views

Frailties, mistakes, and imperfections

In the past, I've been inclined to believe that god-like characters are fun to write about. They are impossible to kill, cause omnipotent levels of destruction without consequence, and always come out ...
10
votes
3answers
616 views

What's the proper etiquette/format for updating a blog post?

I've been doing websites for 16 years, but am new to writing a blog. Websites pages change all the time, but it seems to me that blog posts are relatively static once they've been posted. If I want ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

What's the best way to show a foreign language in a manuscript?

What's the best way to show a character speaking a foreign language in fiction manuscript? Should the foreign words be italicized and include a translation? Should it just be included in the sentence ...
10
votes
9answers
388 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 ...

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