14
votes
17answers
991 views

Help! I've got Writer's Block

I really want to write, but as soon as I sit down and set pen to paper, my mind goes blank. I can't think of anything to write. Sometimes I stare at my screen for hours; doesn't help. If I do think ...
44
votes
38answers
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.
105
votes
20answers
5k views

The “Rules” of Writing

There are a lot of axioms that get tossed around in creative writing courses, books on writing, and of course, the internet. Often, these little gems are explained to new writers as though they were ...
34
votes
10answers
957k views

How to write a polite reminder email?

What guidelines and language should be used to write a polite reminder email. Ideally I would like it to be: Respectful Not too formal In particular I am thinking in terms of business, and ...
20
votes
7answers
718 views

What are some online guides for starting writers?

I've always wanted to start writing (in a totally amateur way), but whenever I want to start something I instantly get blocked having a lot of questions and doubts. Are there some resources on how to ...
22
votes
6answers
2k views

What are the most common style manuals?

From Wikipedia: A style guide or style manual is a set of standards for the writing and design of documents, either for general use or for a specific publication, organization or field. ...
19
votes
3answers
5k views

Using the real world in writing

To what extent can you use locations, businesses, etc. from the real world in fiction? I know someone cannot copyright a city, but what about a particular location in the city that's private. Can I ...
23
votes
10answers
981 views

How do I construct a plot out of my many setting/character details?

In my creative writing, I typically am inspired by short interactions between things: An overheard conversation. A person's jealousy of a friend's talent. A humorous misinterpretation... I tend to ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

I'm getting tired of “he said” “she said” in dialogue; how do I get around it?

I get tired of "he said", "she said", "they replied". Is there a better, but still reasonable way, to indicate dialogue?
14
votes
8answers
320 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
405 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
405 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
1k views

Can I use real presidents (past and present) and real companies in a fictional story?

I'm not sure if I want to use real people and companies or make up an entirely different world with different people, presidents, and companies than our real world. If I did the latter I would offer ...
64
votes
19answers
5k 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? ...
54
votes
20answers
3k views

How to overcome the fact that I can't write?

My problem is that I basically suck at writing. Especially prose. Part of it is basically because I don't practice as much as I could. Part of it is because I'm just not talented in that way. ...
30
votes
9answers
1k views

How does one deal with world builder's syndrome?

I am a planner in the extreme. I tend to drift toward fantasy oriented novels when writing; it's just what comes out. This means that I do quite a bit of planning for the world that the story will be ...
28
votes
6answers
2k views

Writing first programming book

I was recently asked if I was interested in writing a book for a pretty reputable publisher, which of course I accepted. I am not a writer by trade, I am a software developer with some technical ...
39
votes
20answers
4k 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 ...
13
votes
13answers
730 views

Resources for character development

I'm weak at building characters. What resources are there to create rich characters? I'm thinking beyond name generators: Quirks, biography, diseases like allergies, hobbies and jobs, wealth, omens, ...
20
votes
12answers
50k views

What is a normal length for a chapter?

I've always had trouble determining whether my chapters are within the same size realm as chapters in standard books. Since it isn't exactly feasible to count the number of words in a chapter of ...
9
votes
2answers
401 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 ...
16
votes
12answers
759 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
3k views

What's the best way to show a foreign language in a manuscript?

What's the best way to show a character speaking a foreign language in fiction manuscript? Should the foreign words be italicized and include a translation? Should it just be included in the sentence ...
12
votes
3answers
325 views

When do I explain my created world scenario in a prologue vs. letting it unfold in the story?

Let's say I'm creating a unique world for my book. New planet, maybe new species, complex society with complex rules, history, government, and so on. Some of these details are absolutely necessary to ...
8
votes
5answers
2k 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.
8
votes
6answers
878 views

The opposite sex in first person?

I have been writing about not just one, but two females; sisters. I've toyed with different methods/persons in this, but it seems I've come to an obvious roadblock. I wouldn't call it "writer's block" ...
38
votes
10answers
5k 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 ...
28
votes
12answers
3k views

How does the 10,000 hour rule apply to writing?

The 10,000 hour rule, popularised by Malcolm Gladwell, says that: the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours ...
12
votes
3answers
338 views

How to create space

Recently, a few snippets of my fiction have received critiques along the lines of 'Does not give a sense of space'. Or 'needs more description, sights and sounds'. I think where I am going wrong is ...
28
votes
16answers
3k views

How can I catch more errors when I proofread?

I have a problem where I often proof my own writing and I don't catch all the errors while I am reading through it. I often miss entire words out of sentences or find myself repeating words. I can ...
12
votes
6answers
4k views

Dialog, just what's the best way to write it?

I've come across the following conventions: "What’s this for?" asked Jake. Sue replied, "None of your business." He shrugged his shoulders. "Well, it looks darned funny sitting here." "It’s ...
15
votes
7answers
5k views

What is the difference between writing in the first and the third person?

What kind of story is better suited for each one? Are there advantages or disadvantages inherent to each form? For example, writing in the first person you are always following a character, while in ...
8
votes
6answers
771 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 ...
14
votes
8answers
22k views

Should I indent the first line of the first paragraph in a chapter?

I was reading a thesis report of a friend and I noticed that he didn't indent the first line of the first paragraph in each chapter. I don't remember noticing it anywhere before until I saw it there ...
10
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the purpose of version control?

Just that: What do you need version control for? I've never had the feeling I needed to undo any changes in my (fiction or academic) writing. So what is version control good for? How do you write ...
4
votes
3answers
295 views

Does anyone know the average number of times a new author has to submit before acceptance?

I can't find any authoritative citation for this. As an example, I know that the average entrepreneur has to be involved in 12 new businesses before he has a successful enterprise. That is the ...
2
votes
5answers
890 views

First person pov with more than one main chars

I really love -- and most of time write in -- first person point of view. The novel I'm writing is somewhat different from what I'm used to. I have four main characters -- I don't see any of them as ...
3
votes
3answers
196 views

How to master literary American English as a second language?

I want to learn to write fiction books (historical and science fiction) in American English. My native tongue is Russian and I speak fluently German, since I grew up in Austria. My English is good ...
8
votes
5answers
333 views

How should I introduce new and complex technologies or tools?

I'm writing a Science Fiction book. While this book doesn't push reality very far, there are some new technologies and tools that I have added. One tool is used more frequently than all the others, ...
2
votes
5answers
180 views

Punctuating Thoughts

Following my question here I am still unsure if it is a 'hard and fast' rule to italicise thoughts. My preference is to use normal quotation marks, so that if a person is thinking in a dialogue ...
20
votes
10answers
2k 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 ...
18
votes
10answers
1k views

Where is a good place to find writing prompts?

I love using writing prompts to come up with story ideas. I'm looking for good sites that have a lot of good writing prompts. One that updates fairly often would be best. :)
18
votes
6answers
492 views

Writing discipline

In today's frenetic, fast-paced lifestyle (especially if writing is not currently your career or means of earning an income), it can be extremely difficult to "make" or find the time that can be set ...
22
votes
5answers
613 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, ...
25
votes
4answers
13k 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 ...
27
votes
8answers
1k views

When is it okay to tell?

One of the major mantras of writing fiction is "show, don't tell". Is it ever okay to tell? When?
24
votes
6answers
1k views

Getting Inside Someone Else's Head

A common problem for novice fiction writers, and one that I feel that I myself haven't quite graduated from, is always writing characters who are like the author. Each character is merely some facet ...
9
votes
9answers
2k views

Inventing names for Sci-Fi characters

How can I invent names for fictional characters in a future-setting Sci-Fi story so they won't be connected to any existing culture? I considered the following options: Invent some random names. ...
15
votes
9answers
1k views

Is there a rule of thumb about the number of pages a work of fiction should have?

To be considered a "real" book, is there a rule of thumb about the number of pages one should have? If it has too few then people call it a short story (e.g., Fahrenheit 451) and if it has too many ...

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