Hot answers tagged

5

One note of encouragement: First drafts suck. This is practically an iron law of writing fiction. Don't worry if, after you sit down and write something out and then re-read it, the thing doesn't hang together. First drafts never do. Being a writer is about being a re-writer and editor; first just get your ideas down and then go back over and fix them. ...


4

What's your goal? If your goal is to write, and reading what you "should" be doing made you stop writing, then stop reading that shit. Avoid whatever is an obstacle to your goal. That doesn't mean you can't learn the craft of writing, or study techniques or develop methods or use tools. But if you "let the perfect become the enemy of the good," then you ...


4

I think the problem is, too much of the latter style will be tiring on a reader's eye and "ear" (they "hear" the characters speaking as they read). It's sometime laborious too because they have to figure out how to pronounce weird things characters say. Gone with the Wind is a drastic example of this, because Margaret Mitchell did just that when writing the ...


3

In description, unless you're trying to capture a folksy voice, they're Lego bricks, with a capital L (it's a trademark). An individual one is a Lego brick, or just brick. Of course, people sometimes call them Legos in real life, so you could use that term in dialogue, even though it's not officially correct. I would still give it the capital L though. ...


3

Have a new story to tell. If you haven't planned out your overall story as a series from the beginning (that is, you deliberately set it up to be three, five, seven, etc. books), and you're just writing an additional story with the same characters, then make sure you have a reason to write something about them. Your sequel should have a beginning, middle, ...


3

Honestly, reading helps you write in the same way studying cook books helps you cook better. If you read them a lot, you start to learn which spices are usually used with which different meats. You learn which vegetables take longer to sauté properly and what order you should put the food into the pan when you plan to sauté. You will learn that there are ...


2

My suggestions are: The fear of being a failure isn't your enemy. It is your friend. It prevents you from sending the first thing you wrote after some glasses of whiskey to agents and to burn your name forever. This feeling won't go away. I'm a published writer and journalist and I still feel like a failure most of the time. Writing is hard. Writing is a ...


2

You have an ability to write screenplays that even you are forced to describe as "pretty spectacular." Given this, and your dislike of descriptive writing, I can't for the life of me understand why you want to make the transition to books. Focus on your screenwriting. A screenplay will typically make you much more money a novel. Current WGA rates start at ...


2

Obvious answer is to read more novels. At the same time, don't worry about your previous skill set; novels are as much about dialogue as they are prose. Try and have a strong grasp of figurative language while still remaining clear in your description of events. Otherwise I recommend learning to slow the pacing of the story quite a lot. You have time to be ...


2

In Chicago Manual of Style, they recommend spelling it out. "At five foot one, he was as thin as a rail." In some cases a hyphen may help avoid ambiguity. If it's being used as an adjective, you might add hyphens. "His five-foot-two-inch body was thin as a rail." You can use numbers if you prefer—"He was 5'2" and small for his age"—no spaces, and be ...


2

Interesting question. Here's my take: Dialogue "So in ninety-one, I was following the Grateful Dead around the country. I swear, the last two minutes of 'Black-Throated Wind' from that MSG show was one of the highlights of human history." Third-person omniscient information dump Fans of the musical band the Grateful Dead widely regard their show from ...


2

"Their's" isn't a word. The correct term is "theirs." In most cases, you would add an apostrophe and an "s" to show possession. (For example: "It was the dog's bone.") However, an apostrophe is unnecessary when using these words: he > his (It was his money. The money was his.) she > her/hers (It was her money. They money was hers.) it > its ...


2

This is a question for http://english.stackexchange.com . But the answer is no. When you are continuing a quote, as long as it doesn't begin the sentence or begin the quote, you do not capitalize it.


2

Grammar Side-Rant (Ignore at will) First off, none of the words you have in bold are gerunds. A gerund is a verb form used as a noun. Examples would be: Hunting is a sport. We love sailing. Answer: As far as overdoing it goes, your paragraph sounds fine to me. However, looking at one paragraph is not the same as looking at the whole page. ...


2

"It's about time we got going, don't you think?" "It's 'bout time we got goin', don'tcha think?" Both these guys sound the same to me. They both have my voice, they both have my accent, and I suspect that accent is a few thousand miles off where it's supposed to be. The problem is, one took much longer to scan than the other. When reading a page we do not ...


2

If it's a snowstorm, there's bound to be plenty of challenges to write about... are your characters able to see where they're going? If so, how? Is the terrain treacherous? Are they cold, freezing? Is there threat to their lives? Are they committed to the journey, despite the conditions? If so why? Also, how are they taking it? Are the characters trying to ...


2

I don't think it's altogether a bad idea, it depends on how you implement it. One of the ways it can be achieved is to have the present day story and the past story running in parallel. This would mean that events would need to develop for the character in prison, whilst he remembers back to what happened previously. Answering your question about the ...


2

The Big Flashback can work, but it's a tired cliché. The general strategy is to open with Louise fighting for her life the grip of the Acturan Octopus Tyrant, then jump back in time to her childhood in Idaho, and the strange sequence of events which will lead to her becoming Earth's one hope against the alien invaders. If I read something like this and, ...


1

The capitals are yours — they belong to your sentence, not the speaker’s sentence. So your sentence is capitalized correctly.


1

If you're concerned that you're using too many, then after you're done your first draft, go back and search for any -ing words. Replace them at least half the time. So: I couldn’t help thinking to myself, who is this woman on the phone? And if it’s not Burns’ mother then why does she want to speak with Burns? Monica’s purse rattled again and I walked ...


1

Shakespeare's plays are in the public domain. For more recent works, such as works produced in the past 100 years, check the copyright laws of the country where you plan to publish your works and consult a lawyer. To gain background in this area, I recommend reading the Wikipedia articles on Copyright and International copyright treaties.


1

In my opinion, these are essential for fight scenes: Motivation. I want to know why your characters (on both sides) are fighting and why. What are the stakes? What will happen if they lose / win? Is there a danger of severe injury or death to make me care about the outcome? Tactics. Reading "he hit him, and then he hit him back, etc." isn't engaging for ...


1

I think we should distinguish between what I would call a personality flashback and a plot flashback. A plot flashback occurs when, for whatever reason, the narrative begins after the events of the story begin. A personality flashback occurs when there is an aspect of a character's personality that is best revealed through an anecdote from their past ...


1

One important thing to do is to keep all of the popular / familiar elements that people loved about the original story (or at least reference them). Bringing back beloved characters, themes, locations or even smaller details like running jokes or minor characters with persistent motivations can help a reader feel like they're at home in the new book. ...


1

I'd force myself to spend 20 or so minutes on only describing one scene or only going through a single character's internal monologue. Stop yourself from going ahead and only work on describing/monologue. Good luck!


1

Some great questions! I know right where you are coming from. Writing a full novel can be very daunting. There are a lot of possible answers to your questions because, unfortunately, there is not one right way to start a book. John Irving has been known to skip to the end of his book and write the last sentence before beginning a novel just so that he can ...


1

I enjoyed James Whitcomb Riley and Joel Chandler Harris (Uncle Remus) when I was a kid. But as an adult, I find it tiring to read. I think writing in the vernacular should be reserved for characters with VERY strong accents or dialects. And still, it would be better to find a way to write the sentences in plain English, but use grammar and word order instead ...


1

Strike a balance. Your character who speaks in dialect uses different vocabulary, word order, grammar than the person who speaks in the Received Standard version of the language. Non-Dialect American English: "Can I come see you tomorrow?" British English: "Shall I knock you up?" Brooklynese: "I'll come call f'you." Only in the third one would I change ...


1

Easiest answer I can give you is that the journey to the lack of resolved conflict has to be satisfying. There needs to be some emotional payoff to the reader. Otherwise, we get pissed that we've wasted our money and time on YOUR book. In fact, I've read stories which went ker-blooey at the end in terms of any form of satisfaction, and I usually never read ...


1

From the tone of your post, I assume that the point is that the character's death is unrelated to the conspiracy. Having him murdered by the conspirators, thus proving the truth of his suspicions, is well within the usual conventions of fiction. Assuming the poor guy just gets run over or something, John Yorke's Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible