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16

One of the best books you can read on the subject is Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. The book itself is written as a comic, so it can illustrate the techniques it discusses. One of the topics covered is word-picture dynamics, which seems pretty close to what you're looking for.


15

The easiest way to improve your writing skills is to read, and read a lot. The best writers are also avid readers. Reading helps you learn grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, world building, characterization, and so much more. You should read as many books as you can - both good books and bad. By reading good books you're able to see what works. You'll ...


15

I just finished working on a 150-page Corporate Style Guide, so while I can answer this question in great detail if you want, my answer is not for WritersSE, I think. AP and Chicago are mostly about the construction of writing — when to use a semi-colon, how to capitalize, the placement of someone's title. A Corporate Style Guide, also called ...


14

Some tool such as this could be useful, but I believe you are asking the wrong questions. In my answer to the question you linked and another answer in that question by Fox Cutter, the questions we posed weren't life detail questions. They were motivation questions. There's a key difference. I might create this shell man who gets up at 6:45 on the dot ...


13

I was taught to do character writing exercises. The biggest questions you need to answer about your characters are along the lines of the following: What does she want most out of this situation? What is his deepest fear? What does she love? What does he hate? What motivates her to do [thing]? What does he want from her? Basically you need to find the ...


11

When I'm thinking about where I learned most how to write, I think that reading was the most important guide to me. This may sound silly, but by reading good written newspaper articles (facts, opinions, scientific articles and most of all, criticisms of films and music), I learned how others did the job, what works and what doesn't. In my own writing, I try ...


9

Ingram is the largest book distributor in the business. You can call their automated stock check number at (800) 937-0995. Enter a book's ISBN, and you'll get back its current sales data. You can also get Amazon's historical data by signing up for an account at TitleZ and selecting the books you want to track. Both of the above are free services.


8

Archetypes may be a good place to start. They won't really help with details about dialect but as archetypes they (supposedly) transcend culture and are a foundation on which all personalities are based. They could certainly be useful in understanding the psychology of your characters if not their mannerisms.


8

The style manual or guide depends on the audience. Journalists will use the AP Stylebook. Academic writers have a few more options depending on their field. Most English or Literature focused writing will use MLA and social science writing will likely use APA. For other kinds of writing, especially for an academic journal, check what style they prefer. They ...


8

EDIT: In reconsidering this question and a conversation I had with a colleague the other day I believe I have something to add on this. He mentioned reading about the way Agatha Christie used to construct her stories. He made the assertion that she used to write the whole thing without actually knowing who the murderer was, then analyse what she had written ...


8

If you are looking at how-to books, both Stephen King and Orson Scott Card have some excellent books on the subject. Don't be put off by their genres. Reading is very important, but don't ever forget to spend time doing deliberate practice writing. Do short pieces that focus on setting, descriptions, dialog, &etc. Set limits like 100/10,000 words, or ...


7

Sensual observations are all well and good, but there is also the landscape of the mind to consider. What associations do you make when you see/hear/feel/taste a scene? What makes that scene come alive in your mind? And above all, what does the scene mean and to whom? Remember that landscapes are like stages: they are inert until an actor strides out upon ...


7

I think I've written this before (or upvoted someone who has written it), but so what: You need a basic idea. Oh, you have one, good. You need a main conflict. Otherwise you do not have a story. That means your hero wants something and someone is putting obstacles in his way. Like Remeo wants Juliet, but their families are against their relationship. Hero ...


7

Does the OneLook Reverse Dictionary work for this? You still need to winnow down your search phrase, but it might work. (Information from this answer.) However, good ol' Google will sometimes do this as well; just type in "word that means" and the rest of a short phrase. For example, here's the search phrase "Word that means separating wheat from chaff". ...


6

Well, J. Michael Straczynski said he had three basic questions to help build the core of a character. They also provide something from which to build interpersonal conflict. What do they want? What will they do to get it? What will someone do to stop them? As for the rest of the character, there's always the issues of what they like to do when they ...


6

One exercise that I’ve found helpful is rewriting (sections of) papers I’ve read. A paper is badly written? Rewrite a few paragraphs! It’s easier at first than improving on your own prose, since you’re not emotionally attached to the bad version; but then whatever experience you gain from it, you’re primed to apply to your own writing later. A paper is ...


6

As another example, you can look at the Apple Publications Style Guide (2009 version; 224 page PDF). It includes information such as: Their funky capitalization ex: Mac mini vs. Mac Pro The right way to spell Blu-ray When to use camcorder versus video camera Use of dialog versus dialog box General language usage ex: "comprise: A whole comprises parts. ...


6

Rather than formal training, consider getting involved with the doc team of an open source project with a strong commitment to the quality of their technical writing. You'll get not just one teacher's eyes on your work, but several to dozens of experienced technical writers. You'll get feedback from consumers of your technical writing. You'll have a ...


6

Here are some SFF-specific resources: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America - The professional organization for SFF writers. The website has a blog and articles about craft and business. Critters workshop - Specifically for SF, F, and H. It's a free workshop. You have to critique to post. But a great way to start would be to join and read the ...


6

Well, let's start... Specifically, this post You just lost us. "This post" often means "an external piece to which I am linking" or "some text which is going to follow shortly," rather than "this question you're reading." is a piece of text submitted for critique and, in addition, explains what I am trying to achieve. Redundant, but okay in ...


6

For a first draft, you can use placeholders. XXX, TK (publication shorthand for "to come"), TECH, literally the word [placeholder] in square brackets — anything to indicate that you'll fill in the mathguffin details later. Also, feel free to gloss or summarize. The point of the scene is not going to be the math anyway, right? The professor pointed to ...


5

MLA (Modern Language Association) is the style guide used in the academic world in essays and term papers. It's generally used in English, History, Literature, and similar classes. APA (American Psychological Association) is the style guide used in the academic world for Psychology and Science type courses. CMOS (Chicaco Manual of Style) is the style guide ...


5

I like Randy Ingermanson's "Advanced Fiction Writing" monthly e-zine. You can look at back issues of the e-zine to see if it fits the kind of newsletter you're looking for. He also writes a blog at the same site.


5

I have been working on exactly the same problem. What I've found so far are below. I've only just got these books, so I can't tell you how good they are apart from first impressions, but here goes: 1) The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery Which is a step-by-step program to help you develop your characters, your murder, your plot and everything else. Looks ...


5

This is excellent advice, and is definitely the right way to go about observing your environment and locations. Some other good advice to expand on this. Don't forget "taste". This is just as powerful as the other four senses e.g. "You could just taste the fresh saltiness of the fish being hauled onto the boats." Before you start writing, spend some time ...


5

I've never been a soldier, so I have no experience in that matter. But mentioning war stories and fantasy automatically Tolkien comes to my mind. Tolkien took part at the Somme Offensive in WWI. Many people think, that he transformed the nightmare of the war into Lord of the Rings. Which leads to comparisons like Sauron plays the role of the German Kaiser. ...


5

Beyond the awesome recommendations by Elizabeth, There are a number of great books out there that might help out along the way. Writing Fiction: A guide to Narrative Craft, by Jannet Burroway - This is an awesome book that you can keep re-reading and learning new things from. Burroway sets out a series of guidelines for your prose which remain true to all ...


5

I am not certain if it is what you are looking for, but you can get the xml or unixref formatted citations from DOI on the CrossRef website. Also Connotea is freeware that will produce similar citation formats. If you specifically interested in LaTeX (i.e. BibTeX) formatting, you may be interested in these answers on the TeX site. And on the CrossRef ...


5

(Note: The current edit of this post fixes some of these issues.) Clarity of objectives It's unclear, exactly, what you want people to critique; the way the post is written implies that there will be text other than the question and the question's title, and that this text is what you want people to critique. The body of your question is laying the ...


5

Absolutely. I've read lots of books as research for writing stories, and I'm not even a compulsive researcher the way that some writers are. However, there's an obvious limit on how much effort you can put into a short story. Perhaps reading a 300-page book is too much effort, or perhaps only a portion of the book would be relevant to you. In that case, I ...



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