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Q&A

General Q&A about the craft of professional writing, editing, and publishing. Questions about all types of writing are welcome -- fiction, technical documentation, scholarly articles, poetry, scriptwriting, blogs, and more.

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Sphinx: API documentation: How to turn off creating links to Parameter/Argument link creation

For projects with API documentation generated by Sphinx, I've noticed that some project's don't include links to the Parameter/Argument types (str, file-like object, int, etc) and some projects do....

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by CodeFarmer‭  ·  last activity 3d ago by Mithical‭

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What is the correct way to mark a section as a translation?

I am often in the situation where I would like to cite a source in another language, and as such include my own translation alongside the quotation. I have been told that translation is a form of ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 3d ago by Mithical‭

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Do readers primarily identify with or judge heroes in a novel?

In this article about different categories of heroes, Matt Bird states that sensitive and unlucky heroes are hard to write because audiences have a hard time caring about them. He says: American...

1 answer  ·  posted 3y ago by icanfathom‭  ·  edited 13d ago by Michael‭

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What is the possessive form of et al.?

When referring to a paper with multiple authors by using the name of the first author and "et al.", how does one indicate possession? For example, is it correct to write, "Einstein et al.'s paper ...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by BR11‭  ·  last activity 14d ago by ArtOfCode‭

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Technical Writer Skill Set

As technology and industry demands evolve, what tools/skills should one focus on learning/improving as a technical writer?

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by yashikaissrani‭  ·  last activity 14d ago by ArtOfCode‭

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Using accents while staying legible

My character is using a hardly legible accent, or simply an accent which is not comfortable for a reader to read. For example: “Ye've caught us in th' middle o' supper. Seein' as how yer no bleedi...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Prahara‭  ·  last activity 14d ago by ArtOfCode‭

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What is the Current State-of-the-Art / Any Successful Experiements with EPUB Format?

As a zipped web-page, EPUB has long offered the possibility of completely changing how a book looks and feels with dynamic content and interactive content. But since EPUB came out (2007), I really...

3 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by James McLellan‭  ·  last activity 14d ago by ArtOfCode‭

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How to organize ideas to start writing a novel?

Beginner here. So, I have tons of ideas for a novel, and in fact I want to write one (even a series), but I'm struggling a lot in actually starting writing the story. I have ideas for characters an...

7 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by KLTKGK‭  ·  last activity 20d ago by Mithical‭

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How do I know when I should rewrite vs. editing my first chapter

A little context for my question... A long time a go, I started writing little vignettes for a character I was playing in an RPG group. The vignettes ended up joining up and becoming sort of a ba...

3 answers  ·  posted 8mo ago by pureferret ‭  ·  last activity 20d ago by Michael‭

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When else ought you introduce new material in a final paragraph?

Are there any other "times" for introducing new content into a final paragraph? Have any other famous writers substantiate this bombshell? I was flabbergasted to read this para. because mo...

1 answer  ·  posted 3y ago by TextKit‭  ·  last activity 24d ago by Monica Cellio‭

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How do I write transitions between thinking and speaking?

I've just downloaded an open-source script-writing program, and have started converting the scripts for an anime I've been writing into industry-standard formatting. There are a few points in the ...

0 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by F1Krazy‭  ·  last activity 26d ago by Nestatyhome‭

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How do we prevent Madcap Flare from injecting non-breaking spaces in our documentation?

We use Madcap Flare for our documentation, and it has an annoying property: if you happen to have the shift key down when you type a space, it inserts a non-breaking space (&#160;). Our docume...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 1mo ago by Mithical‭

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How to write a book from NOT the main character's POV and then organically switch the main character

How can you write a book from the point of view of a character who is not the main character and introduce the main character later on, who you want the story to focus on? How do I do this in an or...

0 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Stupidzombiet ‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by Mithical‭

pov
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Changing a story's title to hint at story's meaning

I wrote a short story here http://zecountess.deviantart.com/art/Mirrors-440990952 whose ending explains everything that is narrated before. The feedback I got from my readers is varied, and none o...

1 answer  ·  posted 10y ago by Kuchiki Byakuya‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by ireneparsons‭

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How to cite a statistic from a website using APA?

Most of my life I've used the MLA citation format when writing any sort of essays or research papers about difference topics. However recently I've been exploring different types of citation format...

0 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Ski Mask‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by Mithical‭

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singular or plural for index entries

I am in the final stages of writing a book and currently I am preparing the index. Are there any rules whether index entries should be listed in singular or plural? Currently I have Markov chains...

2 answers  ·  posted 11y ago by jochen‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by Herem1956‭

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Blog Timeline for mini stories

Does anyone know of any blog tools that incorporate a timeline? What I'm essentially wanting to do is write little short mini stories about my life, but on each blog entry I'd want a timeline to ap...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by codemann8‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by Mithical‭

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Should I use contractions in a technical tutorial?

In a technical tutorial which fits better: In this tutorial you'll learn or In this tutorial you will learn or in general does it make no difference?

4 answers  ·  posted 8y ago by learnAndImprove‭  ·  last activity 3mo ago by Mithical‭

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For starting a blog, is a niche blog or general/misc content better?

I am thinking of starting a blog and wondering how I should approach it. Is it better to have a niche blog or is general/miscellaneous content fine?

5 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by yashikaissrani‭  ·  last activity 3mo ago by Mithical‭

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Choosing between your Mother Tongue and another language

OK, I know I was warned, but what can I do? I had this question for a very long time. I have decided where to write (platform like computer or notepad), I am in the middle of deciding my way of wri...

2 answers  ·  posted 9y ago by rptwsthi‭  ·  last activity 4mo ago by Mithical‭

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Is there a tool for determining the number of on in a word for the purpose of writing haiku?

In America at least, Haiku are commonly taught to students as poems having 5, 7, then 5 syllables, when in actuality, they have a structure of 5, 7, then 5 on. The NaHaiWriMo site explains what an ...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by zr00‭  ·  last activity 5mo ago by Mithical‭

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Ways to replace the phrase "after all?"

I recently noticed I use "after all" very often. But unlike other phrases, I never seem to find a way to replace it. Some examples: Like the books, they hadn't moved a single inch. Erin found t...

1 answer  ·  posted 10y ago by Alexandro Chen‭  ·  last activity 6mo ago by Mithical‭

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Need basic tools and ways to practice and polish my writing skills

What are the ways to practice and improve basic writing, like content and creative writing? I am not planning to write or learn to write fictional stories. By creative writing, I mean the essentia...

3 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Michael16‭  ·  last activity 8mo ago by tripleee‭

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How do I translate into a gendered language where the gender would be a spoiler?

I'm (amateurly) writing the subtitles for an English TV show. I'll illustrate my question using a small example, but I'm hoping to receive answers as general as possible. One episode has a sentenc...

8 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by System‭  ·  edited 9mo ago by Monica Cellio‭

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Alternative to Strunk & White?

I have to confess that I find Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" to be a very tedious read. Can anyone recommend an alternative title that covers similar ground?

2 answers  ·  posted 7y ago by Craig Schwarze‭  ·  last activity 9mo ago by Monica Cellio‭

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How can I shorten a piece of writing without losing its original essence?

I need to know how to make my writing more brief without maring its original meaning and message. I have been struggling with that for a while, and still cannot do that. It simply seems to me that ...

3 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Stacy‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Olin Lathrop‭

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Want to Expand my Writing Career as Freelancer [closed]

I've been working as a content writer and blogger for a few local agencies. I want to start freelancing this year but am slightly afraid to start. Could anyone help me how to start freelancing as a...

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by proptijohn‭  ·  closed 1y ago by Mithical‭

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Should writers shun cognate stems that share roots, because readers take longer to process these stems? [closed]

Question 1 Here I am asking about merely reading and writing. Do human readers take longer to distinguish between stems (and bases) that share the same root, even if merely picoseconds? For exa...

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by TextKit‭  ·  closed 1y ago by Canina‭

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Avoiding racist tropes in fantasy

I'm interested in starting a pleasure project: a fantasy story, along the lines of a witch delivering a prophecy to a king about a dangerous and deceitful foe who will overthrow him, and the king e...

9 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by weakdna says reinstate monica‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by James McLellan‭

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HTML tags versus CSS classes: is one preferred over the other for the same styling?

We publish documentation online using HTML. For things like fixed parameter names and other code literals, we use <code> tags. My question is about styling these in tables. On our referenc...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Canina‭

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Why didn't 18-19th century Anglophone authors shorten their sentences, by starting more with Majuscules? Why lengthen them with commas, (semi)colons?

Shorter sentences have been proven more readable. Thus why didn't the authors below sunder their lengthy sentences, prolongated by commas and (semi)colons? Why not divide them into shorter sentence...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by TextKit‭  ·  edited 2y ago by TextKit‭

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Why didn't 18-19th century Anglophone authors shorten their sentences, by starting more with Majuscules? Why lengthen them with comma + conjunction? [duplicate]

Shorter sentences have been proven more readable. Thus why didn't the authors below sunder their lengthy sentences, prolongated by comma + conjunction? Why not divide them into shorter sentences s...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by TextKit‭  ·  edited 2y ago by TextKit‭

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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 ...

9 answers  ·  posted 12y ago by Joel Rodgers‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by ArtOfCode‭

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How can I make the plagiarism detector "Ithenticate" identify "θ-continuous" as a single word?

I have a problem with the similarity index of one of my works since the plagiarism detector "Ithenticate" identifies θ-continuous as continuous. In my university, all that matters is the similarity...

1 answer  ·  posted 5y ago by Heba ‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Canina‭

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block-quotation narrative with dialogue

Over on the Judaism site, I summarized a narrative text in a block quotation. Because the narrative is well-known, I expected many people to skip the block quotation; therefore, I did not want it t...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by msh210‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Mark Baker‭

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How can garden path sentences be used (and misused)?

"A garden path sentence is a grammatically correct sentence that starts in such a way that a reader's most likely interpretation will be incorrect; the reader is lured into a parse that turns out t...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Paul A. Clayton‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by gmcgath‭

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Will it help you to get published if you have a lot of followers of your writing?

Background To be honest, I really didn't know how to title this question. Anyway, the background. I was sitting around in front of the plan for the second book of my trilogy. Woohoo! I finished th...

3 answers  ·  posted 7y ago by Daniel Cann‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by desbest‭

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Why closed questions tend not to get reopened? [closed]

This post is about Q&A websites in general. In StackExchange there is a culture of closing questions which do not reflect "the standards"; it's a culture that I as someone who uses SE since 20...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by deleted user  ·  closed 2y ago by Canina‭

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For HTML documentation sets, are there meaningful guidelines for topic length?

We produce a large HTML documentation set with the conventional two-pane view: expandable table of contents on the left, selected topic on the right. When you select a topic, if it has subtopics --...

2 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Mark Baker‭

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How can we integrate a lightweight public ticketing system into our documentation feedback form?

We publish a substantial documentation set online. Each page has a place at the bottom that asks "was this helpful? (Y/N)", and if the person chooses "no" we offer a textbox. We collect all this ...

3 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Mark Baker‭

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What are the benefits of including complete working code samples in documentation

When documenting software API so others know how to access the various methods, what data structures are used etc, I like to document each bit in detail and also include, regardless of the coding l...

4 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Lefty G Balogh‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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How should I document a database schema?

I am going to be writing some user-facing documentation for a database that visitors can query. That is, the people writing queries are not the ones who created the database; they can come in, look...

3 answers  ·  posted 9y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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How to control safety nets in discovery writing

Even though discovery writing is about letting the story go without interference, you still don't want the characters to get killed in the first chapter. For this exists safety nets, people, objec...

1 answer  ·  posted 5y ago by Mephistopheles‭  ·  edited 3y ago by Canina‭

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I feel like I'm plagiarizing my story? [closed]

So my fears are kind of taking over my enjoyment of writing my book because I feel I'm doing something wrong. In my story I stole ideas from other stories. I took the idea of Bioshock's infinite so...

4 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by user27125‭  ·  edited 3y ago by Canina‭

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How do I write a report analyzing a system's weaknesses and how to address them?

I was asked to prepare an overview of an existing IT architechture and provide a document that consists of weaknesses analysis and suggestions on how each of the weak spots can be improved. How to...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by user40‭  ·  edited 3y ago by Canina‭

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mice don't tap and tablet-users don't click: what word can I use for all audiences instead?

I am documenting features on a web site. The audience is end users, who could be anywhere from seasoned Internet veterans to relatively new people who came for my site's content but aren't general...

4 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 3y ago by Canina‭

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What can a novel do that film and TV cannot?

I have enjoyed writing prose for years and have a few short stories penned. I would like to build up to a novel but believe I have identified a potential weakness in my storytelling. My style is g...

5 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Smeato‭  ·  edited 3y ago by Canina‭

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What content parts should a technical (IT) CV have?

I've been struggling for a while with my CV and I need help on deciding which sections should I include in it? I lack the formatting skill, I remember studying in school how to prepare my CV - ther...

1 answer  ·  posted 12y ago by karla‭  ·  edited 3y ago by Canina‭

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Text Editors. Suggesting & Tracking Changes to Plain-Text Documents

Many word processors are capable to tracking and displaying changes made to a document. Those changes are typically displayed in special markup supported by the editor. E.g. But when using a pla...

5 answers  ·  posted 11y ago by Robert Cartaino‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by celtschk‭

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In 2021, which publishers distribute novellas?

The Hugo awards are prominent fan awards in the SF&F genre. In 2021, I noticed that all of the finalists in the Novella category are from a single publisher, Tor.com. Novellas have, I underst...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭