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Jul
30
comment Is showing motion by repeating words a sign of bad writing?
Yes. Like many stylistic techniques, if you did it twice in every sentence, it would quickly become tedious. But now and then, it can be quite effective.
Jul
29
comment How can I stress a certain word in a medium that doesn't allow for font embellishments?
@joe Well, I disagree. Putting an entire sentence or more in caps is reasonably considered like shouting. But putting one or two words in caps to indicate emphasis is very common, especially in contexts where italics is not available.
Jul
28
comment Legal or copyright problems using Google drive or other cloud storage for story notes?
@what If by "story notes" the OP means notes that he has written for future writing projects, they would be unlikely to fail the copyright originality test. In the classic case on the subject, the court ruled that a phone book failed the originality test because the idea of listing all the people in a geographic region who have phones in alphabetical order was too obvious to be considered original. Notes about a story you plan to write would almost surely pass this test unless it was so generic as to be useless, like if the total content of the notes was "write a romance novel".
Jul
28
comment Pulling an idea through in spite of the need to correct details
I've written three non-fiction books, working on my first novel. Just had a case where I wrote a scene, then went back and re-read it a few days later, and I inserted a note into the text: "This is lame. Rewrite." And that's fine. I may salvage parts of that scene, or I may throw it out and start over.
Jul
28
comment Pulling an idea through in spite of the need to correct details
@KitZ.Fox Yeah, that may not be the best example. It's amazing how many problems in the future are solved by reversing the polarity. I lost interest in TNG when I saw a string of episodes that basically went: "We've encountered some mysterious phenomenon that no human has ever seen before. We're all going to die in 10 minutes!", quickly followed by someone announcing that he has an idea, and then they promptly invent an entirely new machine, build it from parts they just happen to have sitting around, and use it to save the day, in 9 minutes and 59 seconds.
Jul
23
comment Is it appropriate to use real-life quotes in fantasy/sci-fi novels set in alternate worlds?
Yes. The whole idea of fiction is supposed to be that I am, for just a moment, pretending that this is really happening, that this is true. When the writer shoves in my face that it is just a story, I feel like he has betrayed the contract between writer and reader. It can sometimes work in a comedy story, but even there I'd be careful.
Jul
23
comment Viewing all book reviews in once place
If the answer is "no", then it's "no".
Jul
23
comment Building new species. How deep and how complex?
Yes. The story should come first. If the fact that the aliens' equivalent of DNA is built as a pyramid rather than a double helix advances the plot, then by all means bring it up. But if it doesn't, then leave it out. If you've come up with some real cool idea for an alien biology that you want to talk about, come up with a story where this is important. Yes, sometimes you can just throw in cool stuff you made up as a side conversation in a story that has nothing to do with anything, but too much of this and the reader doesn't say "oh, cool idea", but "come on! get back to the story!"
Jul
23
comment Building new species. How deep and how complex?
... what they look like, etc. If you want the reader to be able to picture the scene, you have to give some descriptions of your aliens. But all that said, the key point here I think is that it's not necessary or helpful to give a whole bunch of imaginary biology that does nothing to help the reader picture the scene or to advance the plot. Yes, tell me that the aliens have six legs and purple fur. But I don't want to read a long discussion of the arrangement of their internal organs unless this matters to the plot.
Jul
23
comment Building new species. How deep and how complex?
+1 in general though I'd quibble over your statements that a writer should say just as much about alien biology as he would about ordinary human. I'd say you need to say more about a fictional alien's biology precisely because it is all made up. If I read a story that mentions ordinary humans, I take it for granted that they all have eyes and noses and ears and stomachs and two legs and so on, unless the writer specifically says that this person has lost limbs in an accident or was born with a deformity or whatever. But I can't assume that about a fictional alien. The reader has no idea ...
Jul
21
comment My Ex husband's wife self published a non fiction book naming my kids in the story
Hmm. I am not a lawyer, but almost every discussion I've seen of U.S. defamation law says that falsity is a requirement. See, e.g. dmlp.org/legal-guide/defamation, defamation.laws.com/libel, etc. I understand the U.K. law is quite different on this regard. In any case, the difference between something being a requirement for the complaint and an affirmative defense mostly affects the level of proof required, which is probably an excessively technical point for this discussion anyway.
Jul
20
comment How to deal with a story that 95% of it takes place in a different language country and the protagonist speaks in it?
I was just watching a movie made in Mexico, so all the dialog is in Spanish, with English subtitles added for us gringos. At one point in the movie several characters travel to the United States. And all the dialog in the U.S. is in Spanish, including dialog between Americans. As an American, I got a bit of a chuckle at the incongruity. For of course I've often seen American-made movies with scenes set in non-English-speaking countries where everyone in the movie speaks English, and I've thought nothing of it.
Jul
17
comment What makes a bestseller - Writing or Setting?
@TommyMyron My intent was to say that having one or both of these things in your favor gives a strong chance that a book will be a best-seller, not that the absence of these things means it is impossible to have a best-seller. Like if I said, "If someone drives drunk they are likely to have an accident", that certainly does not mean that it is impossible to get in an accident if you are not drunk.
Jul
16
comment If I get a free ISBN through Amazon's CreateSpace now, will that impact any decisions about getting my own ISBN later?
@DaleHartleyEmery Maybe some bookstores don't want to carry self-published books because they consider them of lower quality or uncertain quality. But another big reason is that the margin on self-published books is usually smaller, they usually cannot return unsold copies, and there is usually little marketing behind the book. All of these factors are the same regardless of the source of the ISBN. (That said, I've bought my own ISBNs too.)
Jul
15
comment How to deal with a story that 95% of it takes place in a different language country and the protagonist speaks in it?
@BrunoLopes You certainly could. Would that help add flavor, or would it be distracting by calling attention to the fact that most of the text is not in the original language? I don't recall reading a book that did this -- other than well-recognized titles, like "monsieur" or "tsar", place names of course, and occasional greetings or exclamations.
Jul
14
comment How to deal with a story that 95% of it takes place in a different language country and the protagonist speaks in it?
@michaelb Yes. While there are many people in the world who speak more than one language, a bilingual book is only comprehensible to people who speak that specific pair of languages, which in many cases would narrow your potential readership considerably. Estonian and Tagalog? You may be down to dozens.
Jul
14
comment What do I put on my copyright page when self-publishing?
I think the copyrights on most books, and especially on fiction, are held by the author and not sold to any company. Pull a few novels off your book shelf or visit a bookstore. They almost always say, e.g. "Copyright William Goldman", not "Copyright Harcourt Inc". I've created a company to publish my books, but I keep the copyright in my own name.
Jun
29
comment technical subjects - non-fiction vs fiction
Ditto. I had a textbook for a computer science class in college once that had a bunch of little "Sally gets her first job as a software developer" stories. They were mind-bogglingly stupid. Full of "Oh, Sally said, as a software developer I get to meet so many interesting people!" sort of lines. At the time I thought to myself, What, is the author of this textbook a frustrated novelist? Maybe there are textbook writers out there who do something like this well, and the stories really add to the book. But I don't recall seeing one.
Jun
29
comment How do you get paid for getting your book published?
As I understand it, usually a writer contacts a publisher with a proposal for a book, and if the publisher is interested they'll contact the writer to actually write the book. But I was once contacted by a publisher who asked if I would be interested in writing a book that they wanted written. I guess they thought I was competent to write it based on things I had written in the past. I presume that happens more often with people who are actually well-known authors.
Jun
29
comment How do you get paid for getting your book published?
It is rare for POD books to be sold in bookstores, but it happens. The writer gets a much smaller royalty because the middle-man has to get a cut, and POD books are usually non-returnable. One of my POD books sells a few copies per year in a bookstore.