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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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Documenting framework features and descriptions

We have written a custom software framework and it has grown to the point where we are ready for documentation. This documentation will be used by other developers to share knowledge. I am concerne...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Grim‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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+5 −0
Is there a formula for creating stakes?

I thrive off of formulas. I don't do well with brainstorming or figuring out how things in my stories should happen, but I can make a lot of progress if there's a one-size-fits-all formula which ca...

6 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Thomas Myron‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Kevin‭

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Alternatives to develop relationships without dialogue

I have to come up with an idea (this is an assignment) for a story between 1 or 2 characters without dialogue and with a length of 90 seconds, so I know it's totally possible, however, when it come...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Santi Tinjacá Rivera‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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Introducing a new POV near the end of a story

This question is strongly related to this one: Balance between character's point of views However, that question is asking about balancing POVs in general, whereas this one is about potentially su...

6 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Llewellyn‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by DPT‭

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How to integrate letters, in-universe book Snippets and the like into a story

So, let's say the main characters enter a building, a really big laboratory of sorts. They don't know what was being worked on here, because no one is still there, it's been abandoned recently. But...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Pharguin‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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How to start a story after the inciting incident?

My novel starts with the three heroes joining a cattle drive. When they talk among themselves, it's obvious that they have some kind of hidden agenda. We'll learn more about thier secret mission ov...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Shawn V. Wilson‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by DPT‭

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Outlining the climax made me lose interest in writing the actual story

I am a discovery writer. I wrote more than 50% of my first novel's first draft. I got really confuse about some aspects of writing, so I took a break and analysed my plot. I've started developing...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Sangeetha‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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Do people usually like the side characters more than the MC?

I feel there is a common audience trend in favoring the side characters more than the MC. And I believe "literary science" backs that up, in regards to character focus. That even though the MC's ch...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by A. Kvåle‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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How to "Start as close to the end as possible", and why to do so?

Kurt Vonnegut has 8 tips on how to write a good story Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. Give the reader at least one character he or...

6 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by theonlygusti‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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Is quality of writing subjective, or objective?

When someone says that writing is good or bad, better or worse, is it merely a way to talk about whether something is popular, or interesting to you? Or is there more to it than that? Compare the...

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

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How to write characters doing illogical things in a believable way?

As much as I would like it, both in Worldbuilding and Writing, not every action is logical or "right". There are two types of this: Imperfect information: The character(s) lack vital informati...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Mephistopheles‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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Are competitions worth it in order to get published?

I have recently finished my 25,000 word novella and contacted some publishers and agents about a month ago. I have only heard back from a couple rejecting me but considering the format of my book a...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Tttttttttttttt‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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Difference between News Analysis and Opinion?

I am looking to get a better understanding of different categories of material written in a newspaper. I had assumed two main types: 1) News (i.e. reporting of facts) -&gt; objective (not debatabl...

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

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Where can I find resources about writing "Choose your own adventure"-style books?

I have read/played a couple of "Choose your own adventure"-style book and am interested in the process of creating one. Where can I find (preferrably free) online resources, such as How-To-Write o...

4 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by Secespitus‭  ·  edited 3y ago by Secespitus‭

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Where can I find online resources about writing a visual novel?

I have read/played quite a few visual novels and am interested in the process of creating one. Where can I find (preferrably free) online resources, such as How-To-Write or styleguide articles and...

1 answer  ·  posted 5y ago by Secespitus‭  ·  edited 3y ago by Secespitus‭

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How do big creative writing projects with multiple people work, preferably in the videogame industry?

I was reading some questions and answers on this site about writing for video games, when I stumbled upon this answer that mentions some things I am not familiar with. In an ideal world, there wo...

2 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by Secespitus‭  ·  edited 3y ago by Secespitus‭

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Is it acceptable in academic writing to write "their very self" or "very + [noun]"?

Is the "very + [noun]" structure, as an emphasis on the noun, formal-enough for an academic paper? For example in the sentence below: "The environment had a significant impact on the state of his ...

1 answer  ·  posted 3y ago by nra‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Secespitus‭

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Is there a "right" way to interpret a novel? If so, how do we make sure our novel is interpreted correctly?

Is there a "right" way to interpret a novel? If so, how do we make sure our novel is interpreted correctly? I have been told that there's no way of interpreting the true meaning of a book written b...

6 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by blackbird‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Secespitus‭

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Dangers of being sympathetic to the killer

I wrote a piece of flash fiction as a mental exercise. I happened to listen to Glen Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade,” and happened to watch an episode of “Samurai Jack.” “Moonlight Serenade” is a so...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Dave Harris‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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How can I have a character introduce themselves as humble without making them seem arrogant?

Two people are dating, and one of them wants to tell the other they are humble, which they genuinely are. But I don't want it to seem like they're bragging or showing off about it. In normal conv...

5 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by jazhang‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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How can I make a character sound uneducated?

Some of my characters have little to no education, and I'm looking for ways to show that through their dialogue. (They're uneducated, but not necessarily stupid.) Here's what I've tried so far: ...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Evil Sparrow‭  ·  edited 3y ago by Evil Sparrow‭

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How much uncertainity will the 'general (Non-YA) fantasy reader' tolerate?

In my current project my goal is to go for the following narrative style within scenes: Show only what the POV-Char can see, hear,... sense. Show their emotional reaction (through body-feelings, ...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by System‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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Can I conceal an antihero's insanity - and should I?

I have an idea for an anti-heroic sci-fi character whose character arc runs from spoilt rich girl, to a refugee in the rubble of human civilisation after an alien invasion, to crewmember and then c...

6 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Monty Wild‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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Character and world building in less than 2000 words

Is it possible to build a new character and/or world in a science fiction under a tight word limit? What aspects should be covered and what avoided? Also are there some similar previous examples to...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Abdul Rehman‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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Is it a copyright violation to have the character share some characteristics with a known character?

More specifically, consider the following examples: 1) Say my protagonist is a boy who has a lightning-bolt scar on his forehead, wears round glasses, and has dark hair and green eyes. His name is ...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Adyescu‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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First or third person

I'm sitting with a bit of a dilemma. I'm writing a novel and I'm struggling with the decision of whether I should use first or third person. I prefer third person, also prefer to read novels writt...

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

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Handwriting speed

Currently I am 22 years old. I have a very bad handwriting. Also, I kinda feel I write slow when compared to other students of my age. Back in 10th grade, I was so slow that I was unable to finis...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Beyond.Multiverse‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Secespitus‭

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What are the top most important key elements for a computer game story?

I am a programmer and in the middle of developing a TBS (turn based strategy) computer video game. Those kind of games have a flow of what is commonly known to gamer as 4X, that is, explore, expand...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Stefanos Zilellis‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Secespitus‭

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Replacing Amazon's ISBNs

I published many paperbacks with Amazon ISBNs. Everything was perfect but some books became too popular (sold well) and it was the beginning of my drama. I completely lost control (long story). Th...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Eve‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by DPT‭

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Is it a good idea to leave minor world details to the reader's imagination?

As a writer, I used to write short stories and poems. As a reader, fantasy is my favorite genre. And I am currently working on my first novel, an extraterrestrial fantasy thriller. When describing...

9 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Sangeetha‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by DPT‭

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How does someone write a moving Declaration of Independence?

Context: I'm among a growing number of people who are becoming dissatisfied with Stack Exchange. In some ways (not all, but some), Stack Exchange's behaviour is analogous to "curation without rep...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by becky82‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by DPT‭

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How to deal appropriately with an inappropriate sexual relationship

Part of the character arc for my main character from Can I conceal an antihero's insanity - and should I? is that she is a sociopath, prepared to do things that normal people would not. Part of he...

5 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Monty Wild‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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Letting a (secondary) antagonist leave mid story - Should it be avoided?

I have a powerful antagonist perform important functions within my story. At the midpoint, he just leaves. Several Plot developments depend on this character. I tried replacing him with other char...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by System‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by celtschk‭

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Should you write character description points in bulk or spread them out?

I've heard a lot of people saying they skip descriptions if they are written as one bulk list, but others say it's important that we let the reader know what the character looks like and include al...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Klara Raškaj‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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What is Documentation Design that I haven't already done?

I'm a contractor who has been working on a project (a developer guide website) for months with another contractor writer. We spent a lot of time: Interviewing end users Designing the deliverable...

1 answer  ·  posted 3y ago by user2263986‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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How can a writer point out the merits of his or her own work?

It is generally taken that if I tell you a joke, then have it explain why it's funny - it's not probably not funny. I continually return to one of my own short pieces. If I submit it I believe it ...

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

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How to ensure that neurotic or annoying characters don't get tiring in the long run

A is a special snowflake, though for all the wrong reasons. You see, he was born with a special ability that allowed him to see premonitions of his and his loved ones' future in the form of still i...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Mephistopheles‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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Basing my protagonist on myself

(I asked another question about this novella here.) In a novella I'm writing, I explore the lives of a young Hispanic woman, Ramona, and her brother, Rafael, in an Orwellian-esque future America w...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by weakdna says reinstate monica‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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Books in a trilogy are significantly different lengths. What to do?

I’ve managed to write a fantasy book, Lord of the Rings-style. That is, a single story that would almost certainly be published as three separate books with multiple branching plotlines. Or at le...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Galendo‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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What's "fair use" for borrowing someone else's invented term?

Let's say I'm writing a sci-fi novel. I want to use a word which another writer has coined, which has become well-recognized outside the original book, for the name of an alien species in my story....

4 answers  ·  posted 11y ago by Lauren Ipsum‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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Giving a character trauma but not "diagnosing" her?

In my post-apocalyptic novel, my MC Eris is severely traumatized by the death of her family at her own hands. Because of this, she has extreme aversion to social interaction and even physical cont...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by weakdna says reinstate monica‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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Do we simplify descriptions when they sound weird?

The woman said as she pulled a small coin out of a small wallet ... The woman said as she pulled a small coin out of a small box she opened/used earlier. I am wondering if "opened" or "use...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by woxim‭  ·  reopened 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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As a discovery writer, how do I complete an unfinished novel (which has highly diverged from the original plot ) after a time-gap?

I am a reader more than a writer, and fantasy is my favorite genre. I used to write short stories and poems. Some of them are published in magazines and get good reviews. In 2018 January, I read ...

8 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Sangeetha‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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Non-sense question about plot structures

Suppose then you have an story in your mind. Then, to write down this finite series of events, you have to translate your imagination into the paper. This process isn't trivial, of course and plot ...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by M.N.Raia‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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How to make a villain fall in love?

How do you show the softer side of a rough person without loosing the gruffness? I have a character that was the antagonist in one story and will be the protagonist in another where he will fall i...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by poeticvampire‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by ArtOfCode‭

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I want to make two of my characters fall in love

My story is about two gang leaders. The female is the leader of the largest gang in the country. The guy is the leader of the 2nd-largest. They meet at a café where the guy instantly falls in love...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Hail‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by DPT‭

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APA In text citations, with the same first author and one other author with the same surname

This seems to be a bit of a corner case. I have two articles, with the same first author, B. G. Cook. The first article has a second author, S. C. Cook. The other article has two other authors (G. ...

1 answer  ·  posted 3y ago by damned truths‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Secespitus‭

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How do I write a generic romantic relationship between a male anti-hero and a female antagonist?

My anti-hero is good character; my female antagonist is the threat. How can I express a romantic relationship between them if I write a short novel? I am a new writer with almost no experience. I h...

1 answer  ·  posted 5y ago by Seraph Myrmidon‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

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Is anything like the propulsion systems (warp/impulse drives) copyrighted from being use in other sci-fi novels?

I'm currently writing a sci-fi/fantasy novel that mostly takes place on a star/space-ship but I'm stuck on if i'm available to use names of the propulsion drives, such as Warp or even Impulse drive...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by SKKennell‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by celtschk‭

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What's a good market for experimental novellas?

A short story of mine has grown until it's become a bit of a monster - about 15K. I don't know if that makes it a novelette or a novella, but it's certainly too long for most of the journals I woul...

3 answers  ·  posted 10y ago by micapam‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by DPT‭

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