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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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Correct punctuation for showing a character's confusion

I'm trying to show that the narration (third person limited) is being interrupted by the character's thought process, and I'm not sure what punctuation is best for this situation. So far, I've tri...

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

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Elongated vowel sounds

When we speak sometimes we draw out certain sounds for emphasis. We also see this technique in song, for both emphasis as well as expanding the meter to make the words fit a certain rhythm. One w...

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

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Which techniques maintain reader interest when the POV is a spectator? (Sports story as sidequest?)

In my case, my character is literally a spectator. They're at a sporting event. There will be a major event which ramps up their plotline that occurs at this event, but I'm finding the event itself...

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

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How to keep a dark protagonist who wants to keep his humanity dark?

My MC is in a dark line of work. He is an assassin. He is also someone with lines he does not cross. He has been duped or coerced to do things he would not, but still holds to some standards. I wa...

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

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Changing the meaning of well-established symbols

Can we change the meaning of a well established symbol and use the newly defined symbol in our writing? If so how do we go about doing so? It am not talking about using a symbol in the context of ...

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

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Tiptoe or tiphoof? Adjusting words to better fit fantasy races

English is a language invented by humans, for humans. Which means some words don't fit well when you're writing about characters who aren't human. For example: Suppose I write "The demon tiptoed a...

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

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Stereotypical names

In every country, some names are particularly common: 'John' in the UK, 'Juan' in Spain, 'Ivan' in Russia. Those names are common almost to the point of being stereotypical (consider 'John Doe'). ...

6 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Galastel‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Indicating multiple different modes of speech (fantasy language or telepathy)

All the viewpoint characters in my story are orcs and speak Orcish as their native tongue, but some are bilingual: they use English to talk to humans. Additionally, the main character has a magic p...

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

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Does the reader need to like the PoV character?

I have the feeling this is already been asked, but I can't seem to find it. Close the question if it comes out as duplicate. There's an issue with novels with a first-person narrator, or a third p...

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

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Symbolism of 18 Journeyers

In my story, 12 year old Ruth has visions from another place and time which lead her to gather a group of kids for a quest. She is told there will be 18 kids, but she can only find 17 with the spe...

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

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How can I make a non-linear timeline less confusing?

My story is broken into 8 sections. Sections 1 and 2 take place simultaneously, in two different worlds. The other 6 continue in a linear fashion (switching back &amp; forth between the two worlds ...

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

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How to answer questions about my characters?

I'm reading KM Weiland's Creating Character Arcs. In it, she lists: Questions to Ask About the Thing the Character Wants and the Thing the Character Needs How is the Lie holding your ch...

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

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Including disabled characters without "inspiration porn"

We all have seen the headlines: "Touching Moment Where Autistic Boy is Asked to Prom", "Watch This Child With Downs Win Her Heat During a Swim Competition", etc., that are touching at first glance,...

6 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by weakdna says reinstate monica‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How can I write an annoying character without annoying the reader?

My story has a group of five refugees traveling across the kingdom. One of them is preachy and pretty much useless (unused to physical labor, trying to convert the heathens in the group). She's dri...

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

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Should I use the terms "people" "person" "man" and "woman" in fantasy setting?

So I'm writing a story and the setting is that there are two worlds: the world of humans and the world of (insert species name here). Now I'm wondering if it's okay to use the terms/words "people,...

3 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by zaizen14‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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What are the different types of characters in a fictional story?

I want to be able to correctly categorise and identify different characters in a story, predominantly fiction. I have read a lot about different types of characters--flat, round, static, dynamic, p...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by N.Houghton‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Using footnotes in fiction: children's book which can be enjoyed by adults

I would like to write a children's story which is appealing to both children and adults. However, the world in which the story takes place requires the use of higher vocabulary and slang (it is a r...

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

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Suggestions on fine-nibbed fountain pens that retain moisture well, or trouble-shooting of mine, which don't

I grew up in Germany, where we were required to write in fountain pen from second grade on (fourth grade for math). I do dip-pen calligraphy and various kinds of ink-based artwork, as well as writi...

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

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Self-Publishing Chapters

Is selling individual chapters a valid marketing scheme? Is there anything against it or examples where it worked to sell a whole novel?

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

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Is it bad to suddenly introduce another element to your fantasy world a good ways into the story?

I'm writing a novel with many POVs, and this is a very flexible story. It started out with a few POVs who had one plot, and now there is a lot more, having been integrated in between those previous...

5 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by A. Kvåle‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Can a successful book series let the bad guy win? [closed]

I have a five book series and I have plotted them all out. The main bad guy wins in the end. My problem with this is my girlfriend keeps telling me that bad guys winning will make readers upset tha...

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

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Should fiction mention song names and iPods?

In my novel, the protagonist is depressed. In the story which is in my mind... The autumn leaves were falling as I was sitting alone and Gary Jules' "Mad World" was ringing in my iPod. The s...

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

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Why is "Ser" used in Game of Thrones rather than "Sir"? [closed]

I'll admit I haven't read the books, but I've seen in subtitles and other things that knights in Game of Thrones are addressed as "Ser". It seems to me that fantasy works like this have similaritie...

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

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How to avoid drifting into a different genre?

My intention is to write a novel that falls into the "contemporary fiction" genre. Also, maybe, the "family drama" subgenre, if such a thing exists. I have a plot point that puts one of my characte...

1 answer  ·  posted 3y ago by iamtowrite‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Creating character imagery without describing their physical looks

This is more for my own curiosity than anything else but I was wondering if when reading about a character with no specified gender and no description of their looks, does the choice of words used ...

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

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Can disgust be a key component of horror?

The feeling of disgust is often used in horrors, exspecially visual medias (where is arguably easier to shock the audience with great effect). Often horror stories revolve around one scary element...

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

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Are friendly writing contests a useful exercise?

Yes, I know that - in theory - any exercise is a good exercise. Context: Lately I've been running a writing group were multiple creative-writing/reading enthusiasts meet. As a group activity, we'v...

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

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Personal or impersonal in a technical resume

In CVs or on Linkedin profiles there are often spaces dedicated to past experience. In those sections, one is supposed to describe what work he/she did and what skills he/she acquired on previous...

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

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What type of pen is being used here?

Can someone please tell me what's the pen used here in the below URL called? It looks like a Gel pen, but the text written with it is so sharp: https://www.wikihow.com/Improve-Your-Handwriting

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by user206245‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Can metaphors be used for other purposes than for stylistic effect and to form an allegory?

I was wondering if there were other uses for metaphors other than forming an allegory and for stylistic effect, that is, adding more flair to a description that would be otherwise dull. I've done s...

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

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How does one write from a minority culture? A question on cultural references

Christian culture is dominant. Thus, even without being Christian myself, I can recognise, understand and appreciate references that are within that culture, like the Pietà: Sam sat propped aga...

5 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Galastel‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Using a different POV just for the opening line

I'm currently working on a short story with a dramatic "twist" ending. I use the quotation marks because, unlike a conventional plot twist aimed at surprising the reader, the intended target of the...

1 answer  ·  posted 4y ago by motosubatsu‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Is it possible to narrate a novel in a faux-historical style without alienating the reader?

One thing that often annoys me in historical fiction or fantasy books is the dissonance between the writing style and the events and historical period described in the book. The writing is usually ...

6 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by PoorYorick‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How to incorporate a silent protagonist into a chatty world?

You see this a lot in video games: a silent protagonist who can somehow communicate with the rest of the world with seemingly no or few words. Usually, it's hand-waved away by simply assuming from ...

1 answer  ·  posted 4y ago by noClue‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Do hard to pronounce names break immersion?

I have a character in my book named Jiolluav (with the correct accent, Zholl-you-of or /ʒōl-'yoo-äv/), and I've written my entire "novel" (it's a work in progress) using this name. When I asked a f...

8 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Story that's too depressing?

(Warning, mention of sexual abuse!!) In the near future where humans have polluted and radiated the Earth so much that animals and plants have been going extinct at alarming rates and humans thems...

10 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by weakdna says reinstate monica‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Do authors often base their characters off of themselves?

(I previously asked a related question about projecting myself onto my characters.) I've read just few books where authors use their own life experience as the basis for the characters and plot (m...

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

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Could the cast of my book be more unique?

Edit: After reading the question I've asked again and the answers I've gotten, I feel I should say that the descriptions of the characters here are definitely the bare basic. There is a full word d...

5 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Elil Flame‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Is no religion a bad thing?

(I believe I've asked about a half dozen questions pertaining to this post-apocalyptic novel, including my "is this story too diverse" question. This sort of pertains to that.) Last night, I thou...

8 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by weakdna says reinstate monica‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Is it bad to project myself into my story?

After reading that a Mary-Sue often is a projection of the author, I realized most of my stories are. Is it a bad thing? My MC aren't Mary-sues (at least I hope so), they're the opposite of perf...

3 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Teleporting Goat‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Convincing argument about something I don't agree with

In my dystopian novel, Day, the son of a fascist dictator, is trying to convince Analise, a young genetic mutant oppressed under said fascist dictator, that the dictatorship's laws allowing censors...

7 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by weakdna says reinstate monica‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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What website for posting writing is going to give me the least grief? [closed]

So, for all of you who post your stories online, you may know my pain. For those who don't, I'd like to post some of my writing online on sites such as Deviantart and Wattpad. However, I've been r...

2 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Kale Slade‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Will it push away a reader if I start my book with the frame story?

So, I'm writing a novel where MC believes he is influenced in some way by an entity he calls Common Sense. He suspects (yet that is weaker than belief) that he is Common Sense's hand in this world,...

2 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by rus9384‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How can you write when you're upset?

I mean exactly this. Writing needs focus, to some extent. Even if you may fall into a state were words flow naturally on the keyboard almost without effort, you still have to reach that condition....

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

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Can the prologue's POV be different from the POV of main story?

Let me explain my question: I want to write the prologue of the story with the narrator in first person with the point of view of the protagonist. But the story is already written in a third pers...

3 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by V LeFox‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Pitfalls of morally grey protagonists?

We're all familiar with stories about good and evil, where characters are unambiguous. The benefit of this sort of a story is that we can enjoy the conclusion of the good struggle, without being t...

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

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Proofreading a novel: is it okay to use a question mark with an exclamation mark - "?!"

Is it ever acceptable to use an exclamation mark following a question mark? I am proofreading a novel and have been instructed to make no stylistic changes, only errors that impede sense/clarity. ...

3 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by user753711‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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What are the rules for punctuating a conversation?

Are there hard and fast rules for characters speaking to each other? As far as quotations, or without them? Are they hinged inside a paragraph or ruled to only be in a talking string?

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by M.E. Rollins‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Two footnote numbering sequences

Inspired by this question, a more complex question: how can I have two simultaneous sequences of footnotes? For example, suppose I am translating a book. The book contains footnotes, numbered in s...

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

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Switching languages within dialogue [closed]

I'm writing a story which requires frequent switching between languages, sometimes in the same sentence. I thought about writing the foreign language in italics, but the problem is that I already ...

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

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