20
votes
10answers
1k views

Organizing your Universe?

When writing, I always have tons of ideas about the universe I'm creating as a whole: People, Places, Timelines. I'm just struggling to organize it. I'd like to avoid inconsistencies in later ...
12
votes
3answers
318 views

Avoiding Deus Ex Machina resolutions?

Most Crime/Thriller Novels usually have a sudden, unexpected plot twist that puts the main character in a really hopeless situation. One way to resolve this is by using a "Deus Ex Machina", that is a ...
3
votes
3answers
253 views

What techniques do you use to invent snappy turns of phrase?

We all know clichés are bad[1] and that fresh, inventive and "fitting" phrases will delight and entertain our readers. What techniques can be used to invent such phrases? Sometimes they just ...
9
votes
10answers
805 views

How much sex is allowed in a non-romance novel?

Exactly how much sex would would most publishers allow to be in a today's novel? Does it vary from publisher to a publisher? I'm not talking about romance novels where apparently everything goes. I ...
6
votes
6answers
229 views

Are there some good books about scriptwriting to study?

After a little googling I found this: The Complete Book of Scriptwriting What are other good examples?
11
votes
7answers
261 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?
10
votes
7answers
559 views

What are the best authors to read if you want to get better at humor and comedy in writing?

I’ve read humor like Three Men in a Boat and PG Woodhouse, but those comes nowhere close to folks like Dave Barry or Rory Blyth. What are some sources, blogs, books, articles, authors, etc. that you ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Are Names of Characters Copyrighted by Authors?

Are names of characters copyrighted by authors? For example, the character "Eragon" from the Inheritance Cycle series, or a name that you've generated using an online name generator that you'd like to ...
58
votes
18answers
4k views

Do You Use Any Version Controlling Software/Methods As Writers?

As writers, do you use any version controlling software to track and monitor what you write? For example, if you accidentally deleted or overwritten a paragraph that you'd like to have it back? ...
10
votes
8answers
2k views

Story for children without a happy ending

It is a common practice for a story for children to have a happy ending. Would it be considered inappropriate and disappointing for the young reader if his hero/heroine will suffer a horrible tragedy ...
8
votes
8answers
1k 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)
4
votes
1answer
115 views

Different Points of View

What are the different points of view one can write from? I understand the basic first person (I) and third person (he/she), but I hear the term "limited" and "omniscient" a lot in point of view ...
10
votes
5answers
544 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 ...
7
votes
7answers
717 views

What linguistic tools do you use?

I've got a Flip Dictionary, a Thesaurus, my trusty Strunk&White, and I use the almighty GOOG(le) should I ever be unsure of the definition of a word. What does everyone else use? Is there some ...
7
votes
4answers
222 views

Is there a Market for Poetry with a Fixed Verse Form

I find that when I structure my poetry according to an accepted form such as a villanelle, sestina, or sonnet I am able to think more clearly because of the boundaries of the form, and believe my best ...
10
votes
2answers
817 views

What is the requirement for a book to be a NYT Bestseller?

I've seen "New York Times Bestseller" written across the top of more books than I can count. It seems every other book I look at has this advertisement, so much so that I discount it as a meaningful ...
6
votes
4answers
955 views

How to switch pov characters mid-scene without jarring the reader?

I am writing a novel wherein there are many characters whose thoughts are key to telling it properly. In an earlier draft, I attempted to have any given chapter told from the point of view of exactly ...
24
votes
4answers
11k views

How Much Can You Make From Writing a Book?

Obviously this question has a lot of different answers. I'm interested in the typical total profit that a writer might expect to see from: A NYT Bestseller A diet or self-help book that sells ...
11
votes
5answers
264 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, ...
9
votes
5answers
410 views

How can I get started screenwriting/playwriting?

I have some experience writing stories, but would like to beginning screenwriting. Are there any online guides to show how to get started and transition into writing for the stage, where ideas need to ...
7
votes
4answers
767 views

How do I get involved in writing for video games?

Many video games have deep storylines. This has been the case since the early text adventures where creative writing was all that existed to keep a player engaged in the game. I believe that some ...
9
votes
7answers
468 views

Writing different genres

I like to write many different genres in my fiction writing but I think that this would be confusing as an author's name becomes somewhat of a brand. Is it therefore a good idea to invent pen names ...
3
votes
7answers
208 views

Works of literature that are (ostensibly) about the act of writing

A response to this question. What short stories, poems or other works of the literary art reflect (directly or indirectly) an author's experience as a writer? What messages do these pieces convey? ...
21
votes
9answers
508 views

Do I need to register my work to retain copyright?

What are the legal issues when submitting work to publishers? is there a risk of having my work stolen? How can you protect yourself from this? Is there an international "law" for this or is it ...
18
votes
2answers
251 views

Warning signs that a publisher may be shady?

Are there any specific signs (singular or groups of) that I should pay attention to when it comes to publishers? I have read about publishing houses that charge their authors quite large amounts of ...
8
votes
4answers
198 views

When the second person *view* is not an uninvited guest?

It is very strange to read the narrative from second person, but there are examples! Maybe there are a number of situations which are good for using second-person view?
18
votes
10answers
1k views

Could I reach the level of good writing style as non-native language speaker?

I currently write in Russian, but I think of switching to English to gain more audience and to play with both languages and linguistics. So could I ever reach the level of native English writers and ...
2
votes
3answers
59 views

Spelling style in academic papers

When an article is submitted to a conference or journal, is it better to use British or American spelling? Does it have to be according to the conference or journal's style (based on where it is being ...
8
votes
2answers
111 views

How can you submit your writings internationally?

I live in Argentina, and I've always wondered if (given the case of having something worthy) I'd be able to submit it to publishers in, for example, the USA. Of course the writing would be in English. ...
5
votes
3answers
111 views

Books about English writings

Can you recommend a good reference book about the basics of English writing?
5
votes
3answers
687 views

How to keep the reader engaged throughout the novel?

Some authors (a la Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code) use an expected twist and unanswered question at the end of every chapter. Some (a la Stephen King) build deep characters that simply draw you in. ...
7
votes
1answer
219 views

Are different styles/storylines prefered in different languages/cultures?

I am German. Can I apply the hints for style or story-building given here, or by English authors, without a second thought to my own work written in German? Or are there differences in how style or ...
6
votes
3answers
107 views

When and how often edit the style and content of a story?

An early story I did I edited again and again to make it better. But in the end, I got the feeling the result was worse than before. Recently I tried to write (short-stories) in one go and only check ...
4
votes
4answers
524 views

Is there an accepted (or 'correct') way to write translations/subtitles for different materials (videos, articles, books, etc)?

There are many ways to go about translating various materials. For example, while subtitling videos from a different language into english, is it better to (or more acceptable) to do a literal ...
38
votes
39answers
2k views

What are good reads about writing?

What do you recommend as reading material to improve writing for beginners? If one recommendation is put per answer and can be voted separately a good list of resources should build up.
9
votes
4answers
142 views

How to share the work, if writing fiction in a team?

How should one split up the work between two people? Should one write the even-numbered chapters and the other the odd-numbered? Does each person tell the story from the point of view of a different ...
36
votes
20answers
3k views

How to name the characters of your story?

I find it hard to name my characters. Every normal name sounds funny if applied to a product of my fantasy. If I take a common name, I may get the image of someone I know into my head. And that may ...
16
votes
12answers
662 views

How much planning should go on before beginning writing?

I really want to begin my first novel, but I'm just not sure how clear of an outline I should have before I start. Is a detailed synopsis of each chapter really necessary, or is it enough to just go ...
7
votes
6answers
215 views

How deeply should I study the background of a community before writing about it?

By "background", I mean the dialects, habits and culture of the community. Also, I wonder if it is even possible to write about a community without being a part of it? I am only asking this in terms ...
8
votes
7answers
866 views

Using slang as a narrator - pros and cons

Is it advisable to use slang and euphemisms as a narrator, in addition to the main characters who use it? Are there arguments for and against it? For example, if I were to write about street thugs ...
14
votes
5answers
362 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?
8
votes
5answers
181 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
298 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 ...
14
votes
8answers
293 views

Are there any places to have community story development?

Are there any places or ways a group (general public or individually invited) of people can individually contribute to a communally developed story? For example, a website or collobaration tool ...
35
votes
10answers
4k views

How can I write an attention-grabbing first line?

So, the beginning of any story needs to capture the attention of the reader, so he continues and wants to find out what's happening. A Confederacy of Dunces starts "A green hunting cap squeezed the ...
7
votes
5answers
136 views

What are good criteria to consider when looking to enroll in an MFA program?

When people ask me about what to look for in MFA (Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing) programs, I often draw a blank. Many programs like to flaunt their "celebrity" staff writers and the success ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

Third-person objective in action scene

I'm telling a story in third-person objective, the first part being basically an objective description of events around a certain character. I got to a brief action scene, and it fell flat. What the ...
4
votes
5answers
177 views

How do I involve my audience with my story?

I am writing for a video game, and I have noticed that there is a gap between plot and gameplay. Most times there is a plot to a story, but it takes place either only in cutscenes or in reminders of ...
20
votes
5answers
570 views

Publishing for Kindle

I am very keen to get into writing, and have come up with several outline plots for short stories, novels and even trilogies. However, one hurdle, which I expect is not uncommon for most new authors, ...
12
votes
3answers
343 views

Podcasts useful for improving writing skills

Any podcasts that can help with writing skills? (One per answer please, I'll add my own fave to get started.)

15 30 50 per page