11
votes
4answers
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 ...
11
votes
8answers
408 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?
10
votes
9answers
443 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 ...
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
5answers
582 views

How can I learn how to outline, so I can write like an architect?

I've just watched one part of Brandon Sanderson's lecture on writing, the section entitled Gardeners & Architects and I realised I'm a Gardener, almost exclusively. This often ends up with me ...
9
votes
4answers
787 views

How do I avoid a “mid-story info dump?”

I am revising the manuscript for a novel. About a third into the story, a major turning point occurs when the main character (through whom the reader follows the story) realizes that things are not at ...
8
votes
2answers
482 views

Is there any hope of a fictional short story being published?

I mean under 100k, probably less than 50k because it's a short story. Actually, I'm not sure how many words a short story has so I have two questions. How short is a short story and is it worth the ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

Children's Dialogue

I'm having some trouble writing dialogue (and emotive responses) for children in the age bracket of roughly 10-13. They end up reading more like adults with limited vocabularies and simple grammar ...
7
votes
4answers
402 views

Writing techniques or exercises to improve ability to show rather than tell?

Does anyone have any effective writing techniques or exercises that you use to help you focus more on showing the reader what you mean rather than just telling them about? I know I often find myself ...
7
votes
6answers
2k views

Killing off a character: deciding if, when and how

Killing off a character is a serious issue. Secondary characters or even extras can pass away without too much negative response from the readers but main characters are a whole different matter. It ...
7
votes
1answer
397 views

How can I find short-story spinoffs for my fantasy epic?

I write epic fantasy; I've written two trilogies in a joint setting, and am writing further books in the same setting. I would like to start writing short stories for my setting as well - stories ...
6
votes
11answers
928 views

How do I round out a powerful character?

I've created a character named "Mathias Mindblade" who is trained by a wise wizard to lead a rebellion against the Darkness Empire and eventually to establish an Empire of Light. Mathias has some ...
6
votes
3answers
402 views

How do I start editing my novel?

I had written the first draft of my book and put it in the freezer almost 6 weeks ago. Yesterday I took it out, and after going through a first read to note my reactions, I have decided to start work ...
5
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
328 views

How do you come up with a fictional character name in a historical era/region?

How do you research to find character names? Especially when it's long ago, not European, and the culture was totally different from what the region has now. For example, how would you generate names ...
20
votes
7answers
2k views

Why does an author need an editor?

I'm firmly in the camp of "your novel needs an editor, and that editor better not be yourself." But recently I was asked why that was, and I couldn't articulate an answer that was passable. Young ...
16
votes
4answers
4k views

What is a beat?

I keep hearing the word "beat" in Writers.SE, as in "... break your scene into beats" from this question. What is a beat? How is it different from a scene?
16
votes
6answers
2k views

Keeping track of multiple plot lines

How do you track several plot lines woven together? I usually run 2 or 3 plot-lines in parallel, so I detail those plots each in a separate document. But as the book goes on, it is sometimes ...
15
votes
6answers
720 views

How can I effectively invent a language?

I want to make a particular language that adapts to the story. And the language has to have x and y and e characteristics for example. Is there a protocol to follow on the process of making a ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

Would a paid-for review from Kirkus give me real insight into quality of my manuscript?

As an amateur writer who has just finished my first manuscript, I want a qualified, non-biased, and thorough opinion on whether what I've written is any good. I recently heard about a service offered ...
13
votes
5answers
329 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
31k 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, ...
12
votes
2answers
979 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
754 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
9answers
564 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
157 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
4answers
231 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?
10
votes
4answers
876 views

How to continue someone else's story gracefully, with fan-fiction?

I've been juggling some ideas for NaNoWriMo and one of them is a Doctor Who story. Now I've not read a great deal of fan fiction but I've never read any that I'd say that compares to the original, and ...
10
votes
5answers
670 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 ...
9
votes
7answers
2k views

How do you make a character witty?

How can a character be made to appear witty, or funny? That is, the character amuses other characters, not the reader, who should ideally be impressed with the characters wit. The only way that I can ...
9
votes
2answers
411 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
5answers
4k views

Is Academic Ghostwriting legal?

I recently learned of the concept of academic ghostwriting (see, e.g. this article) - by which I mean the situation where a student goes to another person, or perhaps a service, and pays them to ...
9
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
3answers
187 views

How much is considered plagiarism?

I'm aware that some fictional work is loosely based on others, consciously or not. For instance, Lord of the Rings has some common elements with the Saga of Nibelung from the old Norse traditions. ...
8
votes
2answers
7k views

How do I write a believable romance subplot?

Sexuality is a large part of who we are as persons and it influences many decisions we make. Sadly, I don't know how to make a romance subplot believable. Are there any good guidelines to creating ...
8
votes
6answers
379 views

How can I break up a lengthy explanation?

I have a setting in one of my stories where a character has to describe a very long series of events, giving the history of an object so that others know more about it. This not only provides the ...
8
votes
5answers
439 views

Our note in footnote of a book

How do I designate the footnotes that are mine inside a quote? I tried "our note", "note ours" and "remark is ours". Which one is the correct one and most commonly used? Or is there some other way? ...
8
votes
4answers
30k views

How many pages would my manuscript be in paperback?

Say I have a 100 page manuscript in Courier, 11pt, double-spaced. How many paperback pages is this roughly equivalent to? Is there a better font/spacing to use?
8
votes
13answers
2k views

How do evil protagonists win the reader over in dark fantasy stories? [closed]

I thought about writing fantasy story from the perspective of the evil antagonist (think from Sauron's perspective). So my bad guy will be the protagonist and my good guys will be the antagonist. I ...
7
votes
4answers
624 views

What's the difference between purple prose and vividly descriptive writing?

Elements of Style describes purple prose as "hard to digest, generally unwholesome, and sometimes nauseating." In short, it's ornate, contrived and breaks the narrative. There's plenty of advice on ...
7
votes
9answers
878 views

Is there enough money in writing for me to quit my dead end job?

I am currently working full time hours in a dead end job, I began writing a novel with a friend about five months ago now. It began really as a sort of 'bucket list' idea, something we had both always ...
7
votes
3answers
503 views

Converting ms-word to ebook vs. writing from scratch?

Can anyone, who has any experience with writing ebooks, recommend a way for me to proceed? I have a book in Microsoft Word heavy on mathematics: formulas (inline), equations (numbered) and diagrams. ...
7
votes
3answers
845 views

How to practice location descriptions

When trying to strengthen my writing on how to correctly describe a location I try to write a small text on each location I am. (These are then saved in Evernote so that I can search for them) I found ...
7
votes
6answers
475 views

Publishing and selling ebooks [closed]

What are my: options caveats / pro's & con's reasonable expectations for publishing my work digitally as e-books? I remember Stephen King did something along these lines with his 'Dark Tower' ...
6
votes
6answers
957 views

How to introduce a world that's alien to the reader

I'm writing sort of a space-opera and I was wondering what would the best way to explain everthing about the world to my readers. The story is kind of a political intrigue, and it would be very easy ...
6
votes
5answers
542 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

What techniques are used to create non-linear stories?

For stories that are highly non-linear, or that use multiple simultaneous sub-plots, what are some techniques for creating and managing the different items? An example that comes to mind is Steven ...
6
votes
3answers
118 views

Books about English writings

Can you recommend a good reference book about the basics of English writing?
5
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
599 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 ...

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