15
votes
8answers
2k views

What breaks suspension of disbelief?

So much of Sci-Fi and Fantasy requires the viewer (or reader) to suspend their disbelief: The speed of light can be circumvented, magic works, vampires are real (and may or may not sparkle), etc. ...
15
votes
13answers
2k views

How much swearing is TOO much? (And how much is not enough?)

I've noticed that some of the most successful writers refrain from using profanity, such as Stephanie Meyer and Norman Mailer. Are readers turned off by swearing in books? More importantly, is it ...
13
votes
2answers
187 views

How do you avoid the problem of a collaborative work having separate voices?

I've not done collaborative writing before, but I've read several works, and sometimes the text strikes me as having a split personality: some parts were clearly written by one author, while others ...
13
votes
5answers
2k views

How do you come up with non-fiction story ideas?

My biggest problem is that I'm often at a dearth of ideas. I can target a publication or radio show or whatnot once I've got it, but I'm just not good at coming up with them. Tips?
13
votes
4answers
186 views

Are there any good magazines about writing?

As in all other fields I'm interested in, I love to have a subscribtion that makes sure some hugely inspirational material gets dropped into my mailbox once in a while. I'm not looking for magazines ...
13
votes
3answers
358 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.)
12
votes
8answers
448 views

I'm not a great pantser; what kind of preparation do I need for NaNoWriMo?

I'm very appreciative of NaNoWriMo's "your first step is writing a crappy first draft" credo, and I like the motivation that NaNoWriMo encourages. I'm precisely at the point where what I feel I need ...
12
votes
5answers
643 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 ...
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
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
2answers
668 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?
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
291 views

Are online critique groups a good substitute for editors?

I'm thinking of self publishing. Now what all the blogs tell me I have to do is hire a professional editor, who will see any plot / character holes, other story problems etc. (For the moment, I'm not ...
9
votes
4answers
505 views

New digital ways of presenting a novel in 2011?

The traditional way of presenting a novel is in a book. I know about e-books too. Do you know another digital ways of presenting a novel? For instance, a blog, a twitter novel or something like the ...
8
votes
3answers
172 views

How do you track dependencies for your co-authors?

I and one or more co-authors, sometimes geographically distributed, are working on a set of related documents. Sometimes I will make a change in my part that has effects on someone else's part; this ...
8
votes
9answers
664 views

Should I start work on a sequel before I have sold my book?

I finished the 1st draft of my book, and have put it in the freezer(as I asked about in this question). I was planning to start work on a sequel of the book in the meantime. But I was told by someone ...
8
votes
7answers
430 views

Potential confusion: referring to home planet as “Earth”

I'm writing a science fiction story and it's based in another galaxy, colonised by humans originally on a geographically equivalent "Earth". My current usage refers to it as "Earth" and provides a ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

What are the advantages of incorporation for a writer?

I have heard of some (rather successful) writers incorporating - that is, creating a corporation of which they are the sole member. What are the potential advantages (or disadvantages) of doing this? ...
8
votes
2answers
343 views

Out of this world… Giving it time?

I am starting to write a fantasy story. For the first time, i am using computer software to help organize my story. The program confronted me with a question. What is the birthday of a character? ...
7
votes
6answers
271 views

Is it safe to create a wiki for a book (or something featured in it) before the book is published?

I'm working on a sci-fi novel, and it contains a lot of fictional creatures, which are in some ways separate from the novel because I came up with them a while before I actually got the idea to write ...
7
votes
4answers
230 views

How do I find a suitable copywriter?

I am in the process of creating a web application. I will need some copy written for various pages in the site and some of the marketing marketing material. I am contemplating hiring a copywriter to ...
7
votes
2answers
816 views

How to write great movie review?

What should we write in a movie review?
7
votes
2answers
245 views

What is the key reference documentation and how should I cite BASH?

I originally posted this question at SO, but two users there suggested that I take it here. I am writing a scientific research paper, and I want to know if it is appropriate to cite bash, and if so, ...
7
votes
2answers
465 views

How not to overuse ellipsis?

I always… feel… so… expressive when I see this little nicy dots!.. I just can't stop to put them more… and more… and more… Please teach me how to stop!.. Update: I guess people misunderstood me. I ...
6
votes
2answers
461 views

Should blog posts be reformatted to past tense after an event?

A writer is doing blog coverage of an event which is time sensitive (happens annually). The writer uses present tense for the coverage posts. Should the writer go back and reformat the old posts to ...
6
votes
3answers
7k views

Attributing quotes to fictional characters

Let's say, for example, that I want to post my favourite quote from Babylon 5 somewhere: "I'm not saying what I'm saying. I'm not saying what I'm thinking. As a matter of fact, I'm not thinking ...
5
votes
3answers
400 views

What is a good tool for organizing story notes?

I'm working on a fantasy series and have been keeping a Word document full of backstory, character/location information, and other world-building elements. At 160+ pages, it's reached the point where ...
5
votes
1answer
85 views

What are the stages of The Guardian's Journey?

In constructing a story, I plan on following the following patterns: The Hero's Journey: The Hero's Journey The Villain's Quest: The Villain's Quest My question is, what would be the structure of ...
5
votes
5answers
365 views

What are the pros and cons of building the setting before the characters and story

I have a science-fiction setting I have been kicking around for sometime, but I am not sure how to go about fleshing out events or characters that would make for stories within this setting. What are ...
5
votes
2answers
64 views

How to tell if a fiction workshopping site protects my rights?

There are lots of websites for getting feedback for my writing. But since posting something publicly on the internet can count as "publication," I'm worried that posting my work there might prove an ...
5
votes
4answers
273 views

think, I think, I don't think

I use "think", "I think" and "I don't think" in my writing a lot. Can you suggest a few ways to reduce it and few alternative ways of saying the same thing? Look at the below sentences I have ...
5
votes
3answers
315 views

Is there any standardized definition of a “Mary Sue”?

I've heard the term "Mary Sue" thrown around a lot, and it seems to mean different things to different people, but is always something negative about the way the character is written, not necessarily ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

Believable (but easy) archaic English

Do you know any "shortcuts" to translating passages of my story into believably sounding archaic English? I mean, without taking a full school course? A crash course? An automatic service? A phrase ...
5
votes
4answers
635 views

How can I make description more natural to me?

Description is a weakness in my fiction. My understanding is that the first priority in fiction is to tell the story. Setting does this by providing props and indicating character mindsets, either ...
5
votes
7answers
398 views

Are fantasy books expected to be trilogies?

Lately, more and more fantasy books I've seen are part of a trilogy. Is this because readers like it, or is it a cynical plot by publishers to draw out the story longer, so they can make more money? ...
5
votes
2answers
272 views

Correct order for Thesis Front Matter

What is the correct order of the following pages comprising a doctoral thesis: Title, Abstract, Colophon, Copyright, Dedication, Preface, Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of ...
5
votes
4answers
244 views

Least possible editing effort if a text is for multiple media?

I want to write a text with some basic styles and images. I plan to use it on a blog, maybe later in a wiki. And there should be a pdf version. I am writing about a software. So there will be ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

What are some strategies for developing basic writing skills? Beginning Writing (again)

I have a friend who is going back to college after a decade, and is quickly finding out that his/her writing skills are not up to snuff. He/she writes in a style suited more for Facebook than ...
5
votes
4answers
420 views

What makes a good action scene?

Action, in any storytelling medium, is the relationship between build up and pay off. While cinema may emphasize the payoff (pyrotechnics play well to theater-going crowds) it seems that the written ...
5
votes
3answers
952 views

Character details of male archetypes

In this link about character development, the author describes basic male archetypes that are found in a romance novel. http://www.likesbooks.com/eight.html My question is: although this is very ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Breaking into journalism without a degree

I am a fairly experienced writer, but I have little experience in journalistic writing and no formal education in journalism. I believe I can pick up the craft aspects of this form of writing. ...
5
votes
3answers
111 views

Books about English writings

Can you recommend a good reference book about the basics of English writing?
4
votes
1answer
75 views

Word Clouds and Phrase Clouds

I'm familiar with word clouds (or tag clouds) as used on blogs or on sites like Delicious. It seems to me that a tool similar to that could be of use to writers like me, who don't have an editor, when ...
4
votes
3answers
204 views

Where can I find a good online thesaurus?

Usually I just use the synonym suggestions at dictionary.com (or its tie-in site thesaurus.com) but it's pretty lame. Most of the synonyms it suggests are basic and well-known words I already know. In ...
4
votes
1answer
496 views

When to use the character's name and when to use she/he?

This is the first short story where I'm using actual names for the characters. Here is a sample: "Sorry for the question," Jun said. "But why don' you have friends?" Ling glanced at him, then ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Should a flashback be in past tense or past perfect?

Assuming the story itself is in past tense, normally when I go further into the past I'd use past perfect: He had first met her at the grocery store, six months prior. However, which is more ...
4
votes
5answers
224 views

Is this excerpt's style too matter-of-fact?

I get the feeling that this blurb is too... expositiony, not enough description. Too much "this happened and then this happened and then this happened". But I'm notoriously bad at evaluating myself - ...
4
votes
4answers
307 views

Which traditional presses publish poetry?

I would like to publish a poetry folio through my university press. My ex-poetry professor at my alma mater says that is possible, but the university will only publish me if I already have a book ...
4
votes
2answers
142 views

Finding freelance work

My partner is trying to get more freelance web copywriting work and as an avid StackOverflow user I thought I would try to see what the fantastic stackexchange community thinks. There has to be ...
4
votes
2answers
73 views

Where and how to look for a picture for illustration?

Do you think a writing can always benefit from the use of a visual illustration? If so, how to find for free or buy an appropriate picture, photo, drawing etc.? What are practical recommendations?

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