9
votes
5answers
742 views

What's “fair use” for borrowing someone else's invented term?

Let's say I'm writing a sci-fi novel. I want to use a word which another writer has coined, which has become well-recognized outside the original book, for the name of an alien species in my story. I ...
9
votes
9answers
970 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 ...
9
votes
8answers
3k views

Good Outlining Solutions For OSX?

I write technical non-fiction and find that I cannot write well without first constructing a detailed (10-20 page) outline. Are there any good outlining solutions for OSX? Apps? Templates in Microsoft ...
9
votes
6answers
29k views

How many commas is too many?

I find myself often in writing using too many commas, but then going through and editing many of them back out again or restructuring to use full-stops. Is there a rule of thumb I've forgotten from ...
9
votes
13answers
2k views

Does a technical writer need a technical background?

Does a technical writer need a technical background?
9
votes
5answers
1k views

How to write a story that spans decades

I'm looking for techniques to write a fantasy story (A song of ice and fire style) but the problem is the duration of the story : The first three years there are lot of plots, and betrayals. After ...
9
votes
9answers
280 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

Is it strange to describe the narrator's facial expressions in a first-person narrative?

Examples: “Really?” I said, widening my eyes. "What?" My eyes lifted and I raised my brows in shock. I think this reads strange because the narrator can't see his or her own face (or wasn't ...
9
votes
5answers
3k views

What is a discovery writer?

From an answer to this question: How do I successfully structure a long fiction piece? I think I can infer the meaning from the usage but some elaboration would be helpful.
9
votes
7answers
3k 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
7answers
897 views

How to develop a story for a novel?

I am looking for some inspiration on where to start writing a novel. I have a general idea for a plot and characters, but I don't feel it's enough for sitting down and starting to write. It needs a ...
9
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 ...
9
votes
5answers
787 views

Is this character generator useful?

After some feedback from this site and a training course, I developed a little tool to help with character generation. It's called "20 Questions" and works just like that: It picks 20 questions (or ...
9
votes
4answers
469 views

How do I successfully structure a long fiction piece?

I’ve ‘completed’ three novels – a thriller, a coming-of-age story, and a mystery. I’ve had expert readers for all three including Sue Grafton who read two of them. All the expert readers have the same ...
9
votes
5answers
22k views

How many words/hour should you aim for when writing your first draft?

A couple of axioms here. Firstly, most people agree that you should write your first draft quickly, without too much care on quality, and get something down on paper first. The real writing begins ...
9
votes
6answers
972 views

What are the tricks to avoid repetition in writing?

After some time of working on my research, I usually have a structured information of my results, which I can best describe in bullets/numbers. Unfortunately, this is not what academia expects. For ...
9
votes
4answers
213 views

How can I deal with an overload of writing projects?

I'm formulating a habit where I create too many writing projects. I'll work on a project, and things will go fine, until I have this incredible idea and I start writing on it. This continues overtime ...
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
700 views

When *should* I use passive voice?

Is there ever a good time to use passive voice in nonfiction?
9
votes
4answers
479 views

When writing on paper, how do you move things about?

I am amazed thinking how people used to write before the computer ever came about. Before that, everyone was forced to write on paper. I'd very much like to write on paper but my ideas come in a ...
9
votes
3answers
8k views

How to create varying, yet realistic, speech patterns

Different characters speak differently. If someone reads me a letter written by an immediate relative, I can tell right away who wrote it. I believe --and correct me if I'm wrong-- that giving each ...
9
votes
4answers
281 views

How to juggle work and NaNoWriMo?

I love to participate in NaNoWriMo, but this year for the first time I'll have a full-time job during November. Is it feasible to write less on weekdays and "make up" for it on the weekend? Should I ...
9
votes
3answers
134 views

How does one go *back* to editing an older piece?

I have a longer work that took me a lot of effort to get through, and the moment I finished it, my life went crazy. That was about 6 months ago, and in the intervening time I haven't been able to ...
9
votes
6answers
1k views

What tools do you use for your writing journal?

I usually keep a notepad and pen with me at all times. So, if I'm out thinking about a story and a scene or a bit of dialogue comes to mind, I write it down for recall later. I also keep a list of ...
9
votes
2answers
425 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
142 views

What style suggestions are common for which words are used in hyperlinks?

With a purpose of avoiding "More details here" style links that do not provide any information in the link itself, what styles are common/popular/suggested? A good example case (with bold as the ...
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? ...
9
votes
4answers
387 views

How can I strike a balance between setting and plot?

I'm not a fan of Tolkien's work, but it's relevant to my question, so take it as a reference point. I love linguistics, culture, and worldbuilding, but sometimes have difficulty focusing on specific ...
9
votes
3answers
787 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

Little did he know

In the movie "Stranger Than Fiction" the professor of literature makes quite a big deal about the phrase "little did he know." I've written papers on "Little did he know." I've taught classes on ...
9
votes
3answers
234 views

How to figure out if an agent is “on the straight” or “shady”?

Are there any specific signs (singular or groups of) that I should pay attention to when it comes to agents? I have read about agents who work for less reputable publishing houses, charging fees for ...
9
votes
4answers
812 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
135 views

When is it a good time to move on to another project?

I've seen it mentioned in software development the concept of Fail Early, Fail Often. Using failure as a learning process is important to get better at any craft. In my writing, I have a habit of ...
9
votes
1answer
480 views

How to show that something is different than in real life?

I'm writing fiction set in the near future (~15-20 years). The world is still mostly the same and thus familiar to the reader, but an important part of the story is that a few things are radically ...
9
votes
4answers
191 views

When is it acceptable to refer to an undefined group of people in academic writing?

Within my students' college writing, I found much writing referring to essentially imaginary, or not well-defined groups of people. Here are some examples: These days, more and more people carpool ...
9
votes
2answers
538 views

Is it typical to add variation to the words used for a character's name to keep it spicy?

A friend has asked me to read through a chapter of his story and give my opinion. Lets say he has two main characters Mr John de Havilland and Mrs Sally de Havilland. I've noticed that the author ...
9
votes
4answers
424 views

Balancing loads of equally-important characters

If you have a dozen good guys, but four of them are the protagonists and the other six are more in the background, it's not that hard to skew the pagetime of each character towards those that are more ...
9
votes
4answers
272 views

How to improve my skill at writing a question?

I'm a member of some SE sites, like SO and CSTheory. In those sites I'm an active member, I'm reading Q&A and also answering some questions or asking questions, but I think my writing is poor. I ...
9
votes
6answers
769 views

World Building vs Story Writing

Note, this might be off topic and belong on World Building SE? I have always been far more interested with building the world my stories take place in than the stories themselves. I will spend large ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

What is a good methodology for researching a historical novel?

I'm having difficulty with the research aspect of my historical novel. This question was originally going to be "how much research should one do to write a historical novel?" to which, answering my ...
9
votes
9answers
1k views

Tools for generating characters' names

I found this name generator: http://www.fakenamegenerator.com And I'm wondering if maybe there are others? Has anybody found this kind of tool useful? What about tools for fantasy names? Should I ...
9
votes
2answers
906 views

An organization writes its acronym in lower-case - do I have to, too?

I'm writing an article that includes reference to an organization - let's say National Ecological Council of Concerned Citizens - which, instead of NECOCC, uses the acronym necocc, i.e. lower-case ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Good Examples of and Practices in Code Documentation

I noted in this question: What is the best way to learn technical writing? ...that a rated method to learn how to write technical documents is to imbibe good examples. Can you recommend any ...
9
votes
5answers
328 views

Writing from the middle

My biggest problem as a writer is that I always get inspired and then start writing from the middle, in particular scenes or moments which I think will be crucial. Climaxes. These scenes turn out ...
9
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the process for turning a story into a “movie” script?

This is probably a slightly vague sounding question, but I'm curious as to how "stories" go to the point of becoming a film production (at least to the point of becoming a script).
9
votes
3answers
358 views

Conlang question

Diving (OK, dove) into conlanging for a novel I'm working on. The Conlang is atmospheric and allows for some subplot intrigue, but it's not absolutely essential to the story. I've got basic grammar, ...
9
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 ...
9
votes
10answers
2k views

Fictional diary for a novel

When it is appropriate to use the diary form for a novel? Which are the most effective published examples? (I mean fictional diaries, so not Anne Frank's diary).
9
votes
6answers
191 views

Why is having too many symbols a bad idea?

I'm writing a speech on using symbols, and I've just made the statement that you should generally stick with one, maybe two, symbols that span the story (smaller symbols that arise and fade quickly ...
9
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 ...

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