12
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
687 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
591 views

Is discovery or outline writing connected to personality type (e.g. MBTI)

I'm on a bit of a Myers-Briggs spree at the moment (which is dangerous, because it is so easy to read way more into it than you are supposed to). For those of you who are not familiar with it, it is ...
12
votes
2answers
106 views

Notes Placement

Why is it standard for a book's notes to be placed at the very end of the book—book endnotes—while only a small minority of books place each chapter's notes at the end of each respective ...
12
votes
4answers
467 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
114 views

Are already privately bound books a deterent for publishing houses?

I've read somewhere that putting your story, or a piece of it, on the internet would make it difficult (not to say impossible in some cases) to find a publisher wanting to publish your script. Would I ...
12
votes
4answers
316 views

Are “morning pages” useful?

I've found an interesting private online journaling website: 750words.com From "About" section of the website: I've long been inspired by an idea I first learned about in The Artist's Way called ...
12
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
3answers
359 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? ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

Is there a good project management software for writers?

I would like something in which I can set targets - like write/edit 10,000 words a week, set a final end date for the project, set mini targets, track any lag etc. The only PM software I've used in ...
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
0answers
294 views

Where should I start if I'm feeling the urge to write something? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Help! I've got Writer's Block For the past few weeks I have had this "itch" to write something - anything. As soon as I try to put pen to paper, though, my mind ...
11
votes
11answers
2k views

How ordinary must my protagonist be if the book is written from his/her point of view?

What I've found in most books I've read is that the protagonist is "normal" and/or "average" (at least in the beginning). I believe this is because most readers should be able to relate to the ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

Self publishing: Do I still need to follow the arbitrary word count limits?

I am thinking of going down the self publishing path. Now looking at most agents and publishers websites, it seems the expected word count for most novels is around 70-90K. Now these word counts may ...
11
votes
7answers
273 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?
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
8answers
608 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
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
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
9k 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
354 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
4answers
547 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
287 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
372 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
4answers
436 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
5answers
524 views

Can Readers Relate to a Book without Humans?

I've been working on a story idea for a few years now, during which I designed a world (fantasy-based) in which it would take place. The thing is that because this is a different planet, I thought it ...
11
votes
5answers
329 views

Why do ebooks often mimic the layout of the printed page?

I was recently editing a novel destined to be published primarily in e-book form, and made a list of pre-press instructions, to be followed when the final text is agreed upon. Some of these ...
11
votes
3answers
238 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
7answers
481 views

The polymath's dilemma…?

The main character of a YA story I am working on is fast becoming a polymath, i.e. someone with a broad base of skills and interests across unrelated areas of endeavor. I really like how this ...
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?
11
votes
2answers
658 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
3answers
318 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
5k 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
443 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
3answers
10k 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
519 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
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
3k 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
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
3answers
424 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
4answers
15k views

Must every piece of speech get its own paragraph?

I've had a few people read pieces of narrative writing I've done, and they seem to take issue with the fact that I sometimes put a piece of speech inline with the rest of a non-dialogue paragraph, ...
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
6answers
208 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
865 views

Strategies for shortening texts

When reviewing a text to shorten it beneath a fixed, externally imposed word limit, which strategies are available for shortening the text? What kind of shortening can be expected? The most obvious ...
11
votes
2answers
791 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
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
4answers
256 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
1answer
28k 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
1answer
7k 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
4answers
4k 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 ...

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