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34

My experience has been lack of context and mystery most quickly grab my attention. I believe this has to do with the need of the human mind to create order and solve problems. Perhaps examples will illustrate this. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Cold April day, northern hemisphere... clocks striking... ...


32

"Purple prose" is overwrought metaphors, melodramatic and clichéd phrasing, and cartoonish actions. She gasped, her snow-white breast heaving, and her emerald eyes filled with tears. "How could you! You vile beast!" she sobbed. "I loved you and you — you used me!" "I never loved you," he announced, cool as a glacier in January. "You were the ...


31

You could try reading the final draft out loud either to yourself or to another person. (That's what I have always had my own children do when they're working on school essays.) Reading out loud slows you down so that you are less likely to read over a duplicated word and it will be more obvious when a word is left out. It is also a good method for ...


29

In contrast to others here, I don't think specific edit questions are appropriate for this site, so I will answer your question in a general (do-it-yourself) way: This is a method from Andreas Eschbach. If you know German, read the original text. I will only summarise it here: First print out your text (yes, you need it on paper). Pick a small text passage ...


22

I haven't done actual editing, but I've done a fair bit of critique and review. I think the issues are pretty much the same. Standard proviso: everybody has their own system. Of writing, of reading, of editing. Obviously your system isn't "wrong," even if nobody else does it; nor is it "right" merely because you may find that everybody does it. But that's ...


21

Seems to me that consistency is a big thing. Internal consistency and external consistency. External consistency: on Numb3rs, they use real mathematical jargon assuming people will not understand it and will accept it at the Wikipedia level of understanding. But I actually do understand many of the techniques they talk about and they simply cannot be used ...


20

As everyone has said already, writing is ultimately the key. The more you write the better you will be at it. But I would like to also address the reading aspect of your question. You are right that most people, at some point in their lives, will have read 10,000 hours worth. But how many people think critically about it? How many people say, "Wow, I ...


18

Yes, for a very simple reason: If you can type blind, that means you have moved all the necessary control to move words from your brain into the computer into your backbone -- where it doesn't need conscious control anymore. This means your conscious is free to concentrate on your work instead of "Where is the letter w? Press w Where is ... o ... r ... d". ...


18

On one side of the spectrum, some ways of describing have the particularity that, instead of describing all of the character, they define them little by little. For instance: I. You can highlight their body while they do something. a) Indirectly: I gladly helped her take the book from the high shelf. (Implying a tall character) b) Directly: ...


16

There is a wonderful book by Dorothea Brande called Becoming A Writer, published in 1934, but still widely read today and often cited. In it Brande talks about developing two selves for the writer, a split personality, with one self being a creative, sensitive and artistic person and the other being a detail-obsessed sharp minded editor. The two ...


16

A non-technical test reader would be a helpful resource. Because of your knowledge you are blind for so many details, which you take for granted and couldn't believe that other do not know them. Listen to a test reader, what he does not understand, is the way to identify these blind spots. The problem with this approach: you need regularly new test readers, ...


15

I think you're off to a good start by killing the adjectives and adverbs. Overuse of modifiers are the #1 reason I reject a piece of fiction writing. Some thoughts: a specific, active verb is worth a dozen adjectives adverbs more often shore up weak verbs (ie "he ran quickly across the room" ... how about "he bolted across the room" or something like ...


15

Here are a few editing tips that I use when going through manuscript for publishers: Do a search for the word “that.” Read the sentence aloud. If the sentence makes sense without the word “that,” please delete this word. Do a search for the word “it.” If at all possible, replace the word “it” with a more concrete noun or phrase. Example: It didn’t matter. ...


15

Basically, anything that the reader considers implausible when he's already suspending disbelief, can spoil the illusion and break that suspension. The key issue to understand is that up to a certain point, your story is exposing the world of the story, and explaining what's allowed and what isn't. Anything you establish clearly, the reader will be willing ...


14

This isn't really any different than any other important information you want to get across early. Here's a few thoughts: A character considering how s/he might look to others is classic and pretty non-intrusive - e.g. "Somehow, people just see my blond hair and my perky smile, and never imagine such a cheerful, innocent-looking person might be a private ...


14

All terms are defined within the section. Either no outside references or optional ones, or include the information so the reader doesn't have to reference anything. Any background or history necessary to understand the material in the section is included. If applicable, include a paragraph with predictions about the future of the material or potential ...


13

If you're writing in your own original world, try to think of the kinds of things that are present in that world. I actually spent quite a while thinking about what possible phrases could exist in various areas of my current fantasy world. Try to imagine how the idiom you are trying to create could have come about in the setting. Include imagery that would ...


13

I used to love loved running on the beach. It was best in the winter, when the grey skies and (1) cold air kept the beaches clear. I Ru *ra*n as far as you I could, marking the perfect sand with the print of your shoes shoe prints, turning ed, and following your ed my prints home , a Alone with the waves and the birds. (2) I remember running, and finding ...


13

Is this for academic research? If so, the problem isn't that it's Wikipedia, the problem is that it's an ENCYCLOPEDIA. The founder of Wikipedia himself has been quoted saying: that he gets about 10 e-mail messages a week from students who complain that Wikipedia has gotten them into academic hot water. “They say, ‘Please help me. I got an F on my paper ...


13

Stephen King, by my understanding, was a discovery writer. I will paraphrase what he wrote in his book On Writing. You create some real, believable characters, put them in a challenging situation, and then let them decide where the book would go. If you have done enough work on character development, then your characters should be able to decide how they ...


12

In On Writing, Stephen King said to write how you speak. When we're talking to somebody you don't say "This ..." every sentence. It tends to flow smoothly. Your story is your conversation with the reader. I found that that advice was probably one of the most informative in making my writing style very accessible and free-flowing for the gentle reader.


12

There's two issues here. In no particular order: Avoid cliche Make Quintessential Some of the best advice I ever had about making quintessential characters came from James N. Frey author of "How To Write Damn Good Fiction". In that book he gave two essential pointers to making a good protagonist which is a great start. Again in no particular order: ...


12

Easy answer: You need to practice writing. Complex answer: You can try for decades to carve wood and assemble it to a table; if you are doing it wrong all the time, you'll never become a carpenter. There is another saying: You have one million words of shit in your writing. Write them down and get rid of them, then you can become an expert. The trick is ...


12

As John says, you've given us an okay basic structure, but not a lot of ideas about how to TEACH it. For high school essay writing: First thing I teach when I'm teaching essay writing is brainstorming, and then refining the ideas - what ideas do you have, which are interesting to you, which go together, what ideas do you have for supporting them? Then ...


12

Ninety-five percent of the time, what you don't see is scarier than what you do see. Think about The Blair Witch Project, even though it's a movie. You never see the villain. That ending STILL gives me nightmares. Think about Voldemort and the Death Eaters rousing fear and suspicion among the wizarding world, even before his return at the end of Goblet of ...


11

Is what you're doing working for you? Like, are you achieving your goals following this method? If so, then I'd keep doing it. If not, I'd switch. I know that's a bit vague, but I think it might be pretty accurate. I agree that there's a risk of becoming derivative if you read in your own genre, but I also agree that you're missing out, not only on ...


11

It's hard to be too specific without seeing your writing, and I certainly have nothing close to an algorithm for you, but I was caught by your idea of reverse-engineering an outline. Does that mean that you didn't write from an outline to begin with? If so, and if you're having trouble with organization (as I assume you are, since you mention order, topic ...


11

I use a Mac. I use the built-in Text-to-Speech feature to read back aloud the words I have written. It is by far superior to reading yourself because the brain sometimes skips things right in front of your eyes! And the more tired your eyes, the ears usually hear better! You can achieve similar results if you use a PC.


11

Lauren gave the single most universal method - let me expand on that. Note there doesn't have to be a literal character for the cabbagehead - a virtual one will do. Get some quotes from 'MYTO for dummies'. Get a cautionary work safety series series "Accidents resulting from and involving mishandling MYTO". Outright break the fourth wall having the omniscent ...


11

Once a physics professor told me that we, in daily life, measure distance with time. In fact he is right. If somebody aks - "how far away is the mall?", we answer "It's fifteen minutes away". That means that measures are always relative to normal everyday standards, not scientific ones. In old days, moon or sun was a good way to measure time: "It will ...



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