11
votes
2answers
228 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
5answers
457 views

How do I balance work with my love of writing?

I'm a programmer and an aspiring writer. I love writing. Over the past year, I had been working on my first novel. Making the plot, dimensioning the characters, integrating conflicts etc. And when I ...
10
votes
5answers
430 views

What to do when characters disagree with the plot?

I'm writing a romance novel and have hit a brick wall. The problem is every way I think the future lovebirds could meet and become friends is totally cliché. After thinking about it, I've realized ...
10
votes
5answers
4k views

What does being “heavy handed” mean? And how does one avoid it?

I've come across the term "heavy handed" before, and it seems to be one of the more egregious mistakes that one can make while writing - at least that's the impression I get from critics. What does ...
10
votes
4answers
1k 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
352 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
9answers
283 views

Will my readers feel like they are reading a children's storybook if there are illustrations in my novel?

I'm writing a novel. I also have good drawing skills. I would like to add illustrations of the setting, locations and characters. I may include 8 or 10 illustrations (the novel is approximately 200 ...
10
votes
3answers
997 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
5answers
3k views

If you get an advance do you ever have to give it back?

Do publishers give you an advance as some sort of earnest money for your manuscript? If your work doesn't sell very well do you have to give the advance back to them? Do they ever just buy your work ...
10
votes
9answers
543 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
831 views

Good books on writing for comics?

Me and a friend of mine has been thinking about joining forces and make a comic. She is an excellent drawer/illustrator while I perform better in the story/character/writing part of things. I guess ...
10
votes
9answers
359 views

Swearing in a book, within a context. Too offensive?

I am currently writing a science fiction novel. The characters are almost uniformly pirates and/or miners in the asteroid belt. Having worked in the mining industry, and grown up around mining towns ...
10
votes
9answers
2k views

How to write realistic female dialogue

I just can't make my dialogue sound like it's being said by a woman. As a friend of mine pointed out, "This woman talks just like you, Jack." I tried imitating the speech patterns of various females ...
10
votes
6answers
993 views

Introducing the hero first?

In the book I'm writing, the first character I introduce dies before the end of the chapter. She is the girlfriend of my hero and is setting up their date before her untimely end. The hero is also ...
10
votes
7answers
234 views

How do sci-fi stories hold up if their premise or details become discredited?

I've been playing with the idea of writing a sci-fi story that would resemble those written roughly 50-100 years back: Things we normally would laugh out of court today, like Jules Verne's moon trip, ...
10
votes
3answers
332 views

How to write to accommodate subsequent automatic translation

The texts I am writing will be translated by people who are not experts in the topic and in some cases by a machine with next to none human editing afterwards. What strategies should I employ to ...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

How should dialog be formatted?

Is there any "official" rule that I should keep in mind when formatting character dialog? Line breaks, placement of quotes, mixing dialog with action descriptions etc. For example, I want to build a ...
10
votes
5answers
8k views

Characters with no names

I've got a few short stories going, and I've foregone naming any of my characters. It started because I just didn't have any good names in my head and I was going to take care of it later, but now I'm ...
10
votes
6answers
213 views

How can I edit my own, very old work?

I have about a hundred pages of a novel I wrote in high school, I like the concept behind the writing but I'm finding it extremely difficult to go back and read/edit it again. I last edited the ...
10
votes
3answers
985 views

Do you need to get author's permission to quote him in a non-fiction book?

I have a non-fiction book idea that would frequently use quotes/reviews from a specific author. Would I need to get that author's permission to quote him/her, and to base the entire book on these ...
10
votes
5answers
228 views

How do I find flaws in a character I'm building?

I have a particular character in my story who I feel is great. He's a retired monster hunter who settled down with his wife for his later years. He's all-around friendly, respectful, empathetic, wise, ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

Ways to improve your writing skills

As a CS major I've learned that knowing how to write is critically important, but, I'm not really sure how to improve my writing skills. I'm currently trying to write a tech blog in English, but, ...
10
votes
5answers
638 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
11k views

What's the difference between academic and journalistic writing?

I'm not talking about "boring" academic papers that are 99% science and 0% interesting. But in comments on a draft of my senior thesis, my teacher made the comment that my writing style was quite "...
10
votes
5answers
5k views

How much time do you spend writing one page on average? [closed]

I'm writing a technical book about one programming technology and would like to compare how much time other authors spend on one page (on average). I rarely write a page and am done with it, quite ...
10
votes
4answers
604 views

Should I write something I don't care about first?

When I was 14, I had an idea for a novel but never wrote anything. I'm now 24 and just finished participating in National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org) where I wrote a 25k word "long outline" of ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

Sympathetic portrayal of an evil protagonist with good motivations

I'm contemplating writing about a character with good motivations whose actions would be considered evil. In short the story would be about a necromancer killing an entire nation so that he can bring ...
10
votes
7answers
515 views

How little “fantasy” can be in a story and it still be recognizably fantasy?

How little "fantasy" can be in a story and it still be recognizably fantasy, and not mainstream fiction? The "recognizable fantasy" question is one I struggle with all the time. Fantasy exists on a ...
10
votes
3answers
815 views

How can I create my own deadline?

I'm very responsible when I'm writing a tech book or article under contract. I have a deadline, my editor is expecting my work, and I turn it in on time. Sometimes I put it off a bit, but I pride ...
10
votes
3answers
454 views

Pros and Cons of different styles of publishing

I was reading on the meta site that someone thinks we're hostile to self-publishing, and I read over some old questions looking for evidence. I didn't really find signs of hostility, but I certainly ...
10
votes
5answers
692 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
437 views

What are potential pitfalls for a young writer?

Though I'm by no means perfect, I generally consider myself a good writer. The issue is that most older writers I know look back on their writing at my age and cringe at the sentences their artless ...
10
votes
5answers
701 views

How do you meet a writing quota?

As a parent with a full-time job, I usually have a limited amount of time to write each day. What are some tricks I can try to reach a specific word count in a specific time (e.g. 500 words in an ...
10
votes
5answers
7k views

Link shorteners for research paper citations?

I'm curious about the "properness" of using shortened links (a la bit.ly or tinyurl) in research papers. I haven't been able to find any sort of definitive reference about whether or not this is ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

When should I use punctuation with bullets?

When writing bulleted items, what are the rules for placing periods? Presumably bulleted items that aren't sentences wouldn't require punctuation: Orange Apple Banana But how about sentence ...
10
votes
3answers
239 views

What disciplines/habits are used to stay focussed on one novel over a long period of time?

One of my biggest issues is staying focussed on a single novel. My imagination is always creating new and wonderful ideas. I write a few chapters on this story, a few on that story, but never finish....
10
votes
4answers
955 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
2answers
793 views

Is publishing to Amazon Kindle-alternative eBook markets worth the time and effort?

I have published a few collection Kindle eBooks, and am planning on publishing at least 3 more in the not-too-distant future. While my experience with the Kindle marketplace has been mostly positive, ...
10
votes
5answers
520 views

Will e-books prevent books from going out of print (and rights from reverting)?

In the old days, books went out of print shortly after it stopped being profitable for the publisher to print new runs. My understanding is that good contracts had clauses that caused the rights to ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

How can I turn my short story into a novel?

I just wrote last week about Sleeping Beauty but a different version of it. (I changed the characters, and the conflict, and mostly everything except the fact that one of the main characters is cursed ...
10
votes
4answers
129 views

What effect on literature has the introduction of eBooks and eReaders had?

eBooks and eReaders are still relatively new, but they've had a major impact on literature. What impact has eBooks and eReaders had on the production of literature (specifically books)?
10
votes
2answers
359 views

How do I decide if writing expository scenes that won't be in my finished novel is useful, or procrastination?

I tend to burn out developing my stories before they even reach the page, so I'm taking some advice to pants a novel. I didn't quite follow the advice to the letter; I used an idea that had been ...
10
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

how should a writer use version control to track drafts, rewrites, and revisions?

I'm a writer, not a programmer. I'm just now for the first time learning about version control and how it works, and I am wondering how version control could streamline my workflow. In a previous ...
10
votes
7answers
291 views

What should I do to promote my books?

My publisher currently does a lot to advertise my books, but what can I do to help spread the word? ETA: Here's what my publisher said they do to promote their books: "Dreamspinner invests 10% of ...
10
votes
8answers
795 views

Does self publishing via Amazon or similar services make your book ineligible for later acceptance by a publisher?

I have a non-fiction book that is ready for publishing, and I am weighing between whether to self-publish via modern methods made available by the internet, or go the more traditional route of ...
10
votes
2answers
498 views

What exactly do I do to get published?

I'm interested to know what the publishing process exactly entails for future reference. I'm in my last year of school and I recently finished my first substantial piece of creative writing (a subject ...
10
votes
3answers
401 views

How can multiple viewpoints be used without breaking the flow of the story?

I'm currently writing a story in first-person that has a connection to a series of external events - things that the main character has no way of knowing but are vital to the progression of the ...
10
votes
1answer
247 views

How do you deal with procrastination when writing?

Most of the time when I get ideas for a story, I first get really excited about it, start writing it immediately and get roughly 1-2K words. Afterwards, it starts to fizzle, the idea, inspiration, and ...
10
votes
2answers
846 views

How far into a speculative novel should one go before introducing the central conflict?

By speculative, I mean mostly science fiction, fantasy or intrigue. For example Neal Stephenson's Anathem, which is a 900-page book, goes well past the 200-page mark before the central conflict ...

15 30 50 per page