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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.

57%
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Is there any difference between these two sentences? (Adverbs)

I'm just trying to work around the whole "Adverbs are the devil" rule. Is there any difference between these two lines in regards to writing quality: He smiled patronisingly at them And H...

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

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+1 −1
Would publishing my story like a TV series be successful? [closed]

I'm considering writing my latest story in the style of a TV series. The plan is to write 13 episodes of 10-12,000 each. Episodes will be published weekly on Kindle over a three month period. If se...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Surtsey‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

80%
+6 −0
Why does the second act 'reaction' and then 'action' need to be drawn out?

I subscribe to the school of writers who like to (and often must), outline their stories before writing them. For a long time however, I did not use the 3-act structure. My mentality on that has no...

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

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I have a name, and no plot [closed]

So I made a name for a character and his name is quite fancy so I have no idea what I should do with him. I named him, ready? Sir Nathaniel Charles III. Without asking for specific suggestions on ...

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

66%
+2 −0
A.I character that talks using pre-scripted messages. How do i make it seem more relatable?

I have some character stuff im trying to figure out for an AI antagonist. In a game development project that I am part of, there is an artificial intelligence that speaks to the player character t...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Fennecai‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Kevin‭

71%
+3 −0
Computer science academic conference paper using "randvar" instead of "random variable"

I am reviewing a computer science submission to an academic conference. The authors use "randvar" instead of "random variable" (as well as "logvar" instead of "logical variable"). I am wondering i...

1 answer  ·  posted 3y ago by user118967‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

75%
+4 −0
Resolving moral conflict

Conflict is one of the most important things in driving a story. I’ve been working on my particular story for a while now, and I finally seem to have worked out a good plot, and by that, I mean the...

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

71%
+3 −0
How to convey that the POV character *does not understand* what's said in dialogue?

The general advice is often to focus on the content of what's said in dialogue and just write it in the reader's language, largely whether the characters would use that language or not in-universe....

4 answers  ·  posted 9y ago by Canina‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

66%
+2 −0
How can I make my 'first draft' good enough to be published?

One of my bugbears about writing is the editing process. I'd much rather get it right first time, rather than chop this and change that afterwards. Other industries would not tolerate the rather c...

5 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by robertcday‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Kevin‭

62%
+3 −1
Dumping an entire world for dramatic effect?

About 1/3 of the way through my story the main antagonist "wins" and is able to completely remake the world of the story into his notion of an ideal world. The "new" world shares some elements wit...

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

71%
+3 −0
Bad to start story with VR/non-real scene?

I'm coming up with an outline for a cyberpunk story. I want to establish (at some point) that the main character has marksmanship proficiency by starting my cyberpunk story with a VR sequence, in w...

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

77%
+5 −0
The excessive use of 'and'

The word 'and' is an indispensable conjoining tool in any form and discipline of writing. Although, a repetition of the word can make a paragraph too tedious to read, and it only lengthens a senten...

5 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Chagat Nahn‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

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+1 −0
Idea overflow in plotting?

I've been working on a paranormal/romance/mystery kind of novel for over 4 years now and still haven't finished it. It all started out as a fanfiction but I decided that it had too much potential (...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by AlexSkellington‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Kevin‭

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How many character flaws can the main character overcome?

My main character is realistically flawed with a few good points. I'm very satisfied with where she is at. As I begin to connect the internal and external conflicts however, it seems that there is ...

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

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How do I introduce a large cast in an interesting way

I am currently writing a story about eleven college friends and a child. I don't want to just introduce them as "The Jock" or "The Delinquent," and I don't want to do a dry listing of "this is who...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Mai Green‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

77%
+5 −0
How can one "treat writing as a job" even though it doesn't pay?

I hear this advice a lot: "Treat your writing as a job." But it seems to me that this is easier said/done when it is actually paying off and, thus, one is encouraged to do it. But what if one is be...

4 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by user394536‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

71%
+3 −0
Would it be better to write a trilogy over a much longer series?

I'm planning out a long series (more than five books as is). It's very optimistic, I know. But I'm just wondering: Would it be better to plan out my series as a trilogy, leaving room to expand if...

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

83%
+8 −0
What innovative techniques can make a textbook for learning a foreign language "pop"?

One of the biggest obstacles I've encountered learning Chinese is the incredibly dull and boring textbooks. Yes, the grammar in them is important, but it's so boring! Typical writing reads like: ...

5 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by becky82‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by johnDanger‭

87%
+12 −0
How do I distinguish between self-doubt and objective recognition of fault?

I start writing a short story, I'm loving it. If I didn't love it, if I didn't want to tell it, I wouldn't be writing it. I finish the first draft, I still love it, and am so proud of completing i...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Galastel‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Leo‭

77%
+5 −0
Writing slurred speech

One of my characters gets drunk and accidentally kills another. He has a couple of lines where he needs to sound obnoxiously, falling-down drunk. Is there a good way to accomplish this? What sound...

6 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Evil Sparrow‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by aparente001‭

66%
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Pantsing a story?

I heard a writer talking about pantsing a story. What does that mean?

2 answers  ·  posted 12y ago by Elizabeth Schechter‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

83%
+8 −0
Is a lawful good "antagonist" effective?

In my post-apocalyptic novel, my protagonist is not necessarily "good", and although the antagonist is an honest and kind person, my protagonist perceives her as "evil". My antagonist is the leade...

14 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by weakdna says reinstate monica‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Kevin‭

71%
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How many metaphors?

Some of the best books I read have a heap of metaphors, awesomely describing the characters' surroundings or the characters themselves. My creativity appears to be limited in metaphors. I want to a...

2 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by James‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

75%
+4 −0
What determines genre?

Is the "genre" a piece of fiction belongs to determined by the author, or by the editor and publishing house? Is there an established definition for each genre, or is it largely ad hoc? I ask bec...

6 answers  ·  posted 12y ago by Zayne S Halsall‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Mark Baker‭

80%
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Has self-publishing killed the in-person critique group?

I belonged to an excellent critique group for many years. More than one member of that group went on to commercial publication of the works that they refined in that group. But since we moved a cou...

4 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by Mark Baker‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

71%
+3 −0
How I should handle gender-neutral pronouns in technical writing?

I am writing API documentation for a mobile loyalty program and I am not sure which of the following is better wording: 1) When the user requests for their visit and order to be registered in thei...

3 answers  ·  posted 7y ago by Manmohan Singh‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

77%
+5 −0
How to use professional jargon when writing fiction?

The military, the medical professions, police, etc. - they have their professional jargon. One noteworthy characteristic of this jargon is the extensive use of abbreviations. Those abbreviations ar...

3 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Galastel‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Monica Cellio‭

66%
+2 −0
How do you track dependencies for your co-authors?

I and one or more co-authors, sometimes geographically distributed, are working on a set of related documents. Sometimes I will make a change in my part that affects someone else's part; this coul...

4 answers  ·  posted 11y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Monica Cellio‭

71%
+3 −0
Can we dialoguify sounds?

Can we dialoguify sounds? By dialoguifying I mean turning something that shouldn't be put in quote when that something correspond to sounds into a dialogue by putting it between quotes and treating...

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

71%
+3 −0
How do we end a description properly?

Sometimes, I have trouble coming up with a way to end a description properly, especially one that's at the very end of a chapter. What are some of the things you can do, especially when the descrip...

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

83%
+8 −0
Good exposition examples

Sometimes exposition is just necessary. Although there's plenty of youtube videos with examples in films of exposition done right, I'm struggling to find good examples of written exposition. I te...

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

75%
+4 −0
How can I make names more distinctive without making them longer?

In the point-of-view culture in my story, all of the women in priestly families have two-syllable names beginning with vowels. (There are reasons for this, but they're completely tangential to my q...

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

71%
+3 −0
How to balance the agendas of co protagonists that periodically conflict?

While not mutually exclusive, the goals of my co protagonists do conflict and I need to keep them balanced. MC1 works for the CIA and is being burned. He needs help from someone so he can find out...

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

77%
+5 −0
Ending a line of dialogue with "?!": Allowed or obnoxious?

A dialogue of mine contains the following sentence: "You fired all three of them?!" Trouble is, I'm not sure I've ever seen a novel that used a question mark and an exclamation point together...

5 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Evil Sparrow‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by Amadeus‭

75%
+4 −0
How do we distinguish someone talking to another person via telepathy rather than via vocal means?

In my sci-fi novel, some people have the ability to talk via telepathy so how do we distinguish telepathy from other types of communication? I would like to do it, because it's not the same, and I ...

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

71%
+3 −0
What are the indentation rules for the paragraph introducing a bulleted list?

I'm writing a formal document for my company where it'll be shared and used by a number of teams. Unfortunately, we don't have any official standard style guide to follow, so I've attempted to be a...

0 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Troyen‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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+4 −0
Naming Characters after Friends/Family

I drafted a book two years ago that I'm now polishing to publish. When I drafted it, for speed's sake, I named one of my primary characters after an old school friend who I'm still in contact with ...

5 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by GGx - Reinstate Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

66%
+2 −0
How can I hint that my character isn't real?

How can I make a side character's tangibility open to interpretations so the audience is unsure if she's even real? My short story is about identity. My main character is being pressured by a frie...

5 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by AyanaLuna‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

60%
+1 −0
Ambiguous sentences: How to tell when they need fixing?

A story of mine has the following sentence: Alyssa was possessed by a sudden, fierce urge to snatch the teacup out of her sister's hand and dump the contents into her perfectly arranged hai...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Evil Sparrow‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

71%
+3 −0
Are there advantages in writing by hand over typing out a story?

I'm a member of a Discord server for people interested in completing an entire novel during NaNoWriMo (and Camp sessions). At one point, a discussion arose around writing by hand vs. typing out you...

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

50%
+0 −0
How do we follow up a description within a descriptive text with another description?

How do we follow up a description within a descriptive text with another description? Let's say you mention A and B in the first sentence, and then follow up with a long description of B, how do yo...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by blackbird‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

50%
+1 −1
Averting Real Women Don’t Wear Dresses

Real Women Don’t Wear Dresses is when writers portray female characters possessing traditional feminine qualities as being less desirable, competent and reliable instead of their tomboy foils. They...

7 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by System‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

71%
+3 −0
Is a sequel allowed to start before the end of the first book?

I'm writing 2 stories simultaneously. The first one spans 17 years. The second picks up where the first left off... but only about 25% of the way in. The sequel seems to work best if I introduce ...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Evil Sparrow‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

60%
+1 −0
How to write a nice frame challenge?

When answering questions on Stack Exchange, some of us challenge the assumptions of the author. These frame challenges can often be quite popular answers. This popularity, however, can simply be a ...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by AGirlHasNoName‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

66%
+2 −0
How do you show, through your narration, a hard and uncaring world?

As I've already mentioned, I'm working on a sci-fi novel. One of the main feelings that I wanted to represent when I started is the sense of a vast, empty, artificial world, mostly cold and uncar...

8 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Liquid‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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+0 −0
I have a dialogue that I can't write directly. What would be a good alternative?

My attempt at the current writing challenge features a flock of sparrows. Since the actual "dialogue" between two sparrows would sound like a bunch of cheeping, I need another way to show what the...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Evil Sparrow‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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+0 −0
Adding depth to two-dimensional heroes from myths

For the recent writing exercise I wanted to tackle Beowulf's character. In the original saga, the hero Beowulf comes to the aid of king Hrothgar to defeat two monsters. Then, after a period of 50 ...

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

66%
+2 −0
Character had a different name in the past. Which name should I use in a flashback?

One of my characters has a flashback to when he was 5 years old. At the time, he didn't have a name (he goes by a physical description instead). What's the correct way to refer to him in this flash...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Evil Sparrow‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

50%
+0 −0
Is there something "wrong" with my writing? How do I improve it? [closed]

So I usually use stackexchange as a last resort, but I'm completely stumped. If this question is inappropriate here, I will gladly delete it. None of my teachers say that anything is wrong with my...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Carlos Cienfuegos‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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+0 −0
Can the prologue be the backstory of your main character?

A friend and I are writing a story based on our characters. We brainstormed some ideas and now we know what the basic idea of our story is going to be. But I'm having a little trouble with the pro...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Dorito Hub‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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