18
votes
17answers
1k 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 ...
47
votes
39answers
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.
113
votes
21answers
6k 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 ...
19
votes
3answers
7k 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 ...
44
votes
10answers
1.4m 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 ...
21
votes
7answers
808 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
22
votes
6answers
4k 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. ...
12
votes
3answers
432 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
449 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 ...
24
votes
10answers
1k 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 ...
43
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 ...
29
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 ...
17
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
347 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 ...
18
votes
12answers
908 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
450 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 ...
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.
7
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
68
votes
21answers
5k views

Do You Use Any Version Controlling Software/Methods As Writers? [closed]

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? ...
57
votes
21answers
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. ...
33
votes
9answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
13answers
796 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, ...
23
votes
12answers
80k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
482 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
5answers
7k 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
4answers
511 views

What to do if I end up confused by my own plot because of 'trying to be original' or 'trying to make the story more deep'?

Sometimes, I find myself in the dilemma that I come out with a plot that tells exactly what I want to say. But then, I try to modify it in order to make it more original (at least, less similar than ...
5
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
1k 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" ...
2
votes
5answers
214 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 ...
38
votes
10answers
7k 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 ...
30
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
367 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 ...
31
votes
20answers
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 ...
29
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?
12
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
9
votes
7answers
896 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
4k views

How do I better handle my nameless main character when trying to retain mystery?

I have written a short story, and the main character is referred to as "he" right the way through - the idea being that this character is very guarded and mysterious. My plan was to not reveal the ...
16
votes
7answers
6k 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 ...
13
votes
9answers
12k views

Effective techniques for describing pain

I've noticed something in writing: it's difficult to convey pain, and even specific types of pain, to an audience who's comfortably sitting at home in an easy chair. I can hardly imagine pain until ...
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 ...
17
votes
8answers
34k 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 ...
9
votes
8answers
2k views

Dialogue writing practices?

First time novelist, long time writer here. I'm looking for creative writing exercises to help with my dialogue. Any ideas?
4
votes
3answers
313 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
282 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
733 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
365 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, ...
6
votes
2answers
303 views

How to have a character be nameless for the first few paragraphs of a book?

Let me first explain what is going in in the beginning of the story: My main character belongs to a tribal culture that requires their children pass a rite of passage to earn their name. So I'm kind ...
38
votes
8answers
8k views

“All of a sudden…” ?

I am writing a manuscript for a novel. It's my first attempt, and often I find myself wanting to write "suddenly" or "all of a sudden". I do this when I want the scene to change in an instant, or ...

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