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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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Moving away from a gender-based analysis

I'm writing a short essay on gender undercurrents of conversations, i.e. how do different people approach communication and problem-solving in their relationships. One way to phrase this is in term...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Buddhapus‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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What is the correct way to use semicolons vs. commas vs. em dashes?

In Sabriel by Garth Nix, near the beginning of Chapter Two, there is the following sentence: Anything powerful enough to cross the Wall usually retained enough magic to assume the shape of a soldi...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by matt_rule‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Indent dialogue to make text look less blocky

I am writing a story but I am trying to indent the dialog because right now it looks like a chunk of text. My text is Then a figure under the box moved behind Professor to which John yelled “P...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by Dan‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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What type of character should I write about first in a potential series of books?

I have a world in which many characters live in. At first, I thought they all could be part of one novel (kind of like Sherwood Anderson's book Winesburg, Ohio or the movie Short Cuts (1993) by Ro...

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

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Screenplay vs Novel [closed]

Now I know, that this question could be tagged too broad or opinion based, and that it might even be closed down. But I have been struggling over this for quite some time now and I want to get an a...

4 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by HardikT‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Question mark in use with colon

Do you use a question mark in hand when you use a colon, if yes how? I Will Fix Any Error Or Bug is the title of the service. Should I place the order in: I Will Fix Any Error Or Bug Sho...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by nicoX‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Should I capitalise the first letter of a title that an unnamed character has?

I'm writing from a third person viewpoint. I have a character who does not have a name. He is simply known as "The Sentinel". In fact, that is the only introduction he gives for himself. So when I'...

3 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by user96551‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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What are the standard genre characteristics of contemporary women's fantasy [closed]

I want to write a fantasy novel with a female protagonist, and I want to familiarize myself with reader expectations. Is there still a tradition of (medieval-type) fantasy by and for women, and wha...

5 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Sorry for that‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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How do I spot an unintentional promise in my story?

It's commonly said, mainly here on Writing SE and mainly by Mark Baker's answers, that "a story is a promise". The beginning of the story sets the promise and the ending fulfills it. A story that d...

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

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How to derive a storyline from a beginning?

I have an idea for the beginning of a story. I have the setting, the protagonist, and the events that set the story in motion, including the inciting incident and the first plot point. I have, in s...

7 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by System‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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What's the least distracting method to inform editors I'm a woman?

I have a gender-neutral name, so people often assume I'm a man. However, a portion of the writing I do is for tech companies. Because of the lack of diversity in the tech industry, many of these c...

5 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Morgan Meredith‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Traits of Bad Writers - Analysing Popular Authors

I realise that this question can fall in the scope of personal opinion but I am looking for something concrete. Very often, not only on this site but other writing related sites, I find people con...

4 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by user96551‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Capitalization after use of colon?

This is a sentence from a current writing project detailing how people in jail feel about reading. It provides an escape from the reality of what lies before them: time. Should "time" be capitali...

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

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Which is the correct way to punctuate this dialogue with ellipses?

Below are four alternate dialogues that I am confused between. I'd like to know which is the correctly punctuated one. Also please explain how to use ellipses in a dialogue which is interrupted by ...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by vedant‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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What is the name of the service or job title for typing handwritten manuscripts?

I was thinking about paying someone to type up the handwritten pages of my novel, so that I can go straight to the editing process. (I prefer first drafts to be with pencil.). This way I can juggle...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by August Canaille‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Indie Publishing with more than one POD publisher & ISBN

I saw the question about books published by more than one publisher, but it doesn't entirely answer my particular inquiry, which is this: If I publish a book through CreateSpace and Kindle, can I ...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by Lee Diogeneia‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Is a character with a hidden Power too strong?

this is my first time here. At the moment I'm writing on a little Novel and now I am at the point: My character has a hidden power ( in a World where everyone has a Unique Power, he has two). No...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by Pawana‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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What do sentences look like in a rough draft before they are combined into a cumulative sentence?

I am unwilling to draft without editing as I go because I worry I won't be able to translate my thoughts into cumulative sentences. For instance let's take the sentence: "He walked to the store, an...

4 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by g.arbia777‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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What is the balance between 'stating a problem clearly' and Hemingway's literary iceberg?

At a writer's critique group, one piece of feedback to me was: people didn't understand where I was going until the very end. They suggested stating something explicit at the very beginning so the...

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

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I wrote a book, but changed my mind on the ending

Does anyone with experience have suggestions on how best to go back, edit, and rearrange scenes and details? You know, without me dying in the process? The whole book needs to be restructured.

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

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How to keep track of characters' location, within a longer narrative?

I'm currently working on a piece which has characters coming and going. Basically, sometimes a side character is near the main (also point-of-view) character, and sometimes that same side character...

4 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Canina‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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How to make "Joffrey like" characters for a "kick that son of a bitch " moment

We know what I'm talking about. The feeling when the legal side of a story doesn't bothers us too much because we want to see Joffrey getting strangled with a string of sausages. So basically we ...

4 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Mephistopheles‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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What are the acts of a story?

I'm interested in the elements of how a good story is compiled. When in high school, I was exposed to Shakespeare plays where the stories were divided into different acts. While I was reading thr...

5 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Sal‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Saying "The" too frequently

Well, I finally managed to put pen to paper and start writing my first couple paragraphs. I have an issue though. I noticed that the word "the" comes up often. Well actually it was pointed out t...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by ggiaquin16‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Book translation from English to Portuguese

I have a 200 page manuscript which I need to translate from English to Portuguese. I am looking for the best software application authors use for this purpose.

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by JAMES FERNANDES‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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When do I successfully kill off an important secondary main character... in a series of five books?

TL;DR: How much time and development is necessary for a character I intend to kill off and replace with a second character so that both feel important to the narrative? I've looked over this a bit...

4 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by LORI‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Is it a bad writing practice to open a story with a time frame when the time frame is irrelevant?

Example from my own writing: One time, I sent letters, pretending to be a god. I spent last week sending letters, pretending to be a god. The recipient of these letters was Aiko Kobayashi...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by alex‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Acronyms in Technical Writing

I can't find a standard, is the most common use to have the abbreviation followed by the defintion? Example NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization

4 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Rachel‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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What writing process should I use to produce the kind of writing I want?

I want to achieve the following: To produce a work that is well-organized and full of substance. To produce a work in which each thought flows smoothly to the next. To produce a work that is perf...

5 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by g.arbia777‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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How significant a role have editors played on books published in the past?

I am an editor having difficulties dealing with the representative of an author's literary estate about an unpublished manuscript by a deceased author. We have a polite (and friendly) disagreement...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by idiotprogrammer‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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How does the 3 act structure fit in a Non Linear story?

I see that the 3 Act structure can be applied over almost any story, from Hamlet to Mulholland Drive, from The Matrix to Rocky. Story structures like 3 Acts, or 4-5 Acts, always feature a Character...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by FraEnrico‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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What things should one highlight as good in beta reading feedback?

When I read people's manuscripts to provide feedback, I can easily identify areas worth improving. However, feedback isn't all that helpful if it makes the writer give up, so good news needs to be ...

3 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by J.G.‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Is it plausible for a narrator to "hear" and describe sounds which would normally be out of earshot?

Found myself in a bit of a logical pickle in regard to the below piece: The number nine growled sleepily from around the corner that morning, the night’s virgin snow crunching beneath its multi...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by Yavor Voynov‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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How To Define The Compelling Need Of My Reader

I am in the process of revising my book and I started reading a little about marketing. I got this wonderful e-mail by Jeff Bullas, who explained to me the basics of selling: It is not trying to c...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Lady Fickle‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Is Ice/Fire opposition too stereotypical?

I'm writing a story where a secondary story-line (it's about a companion of the main character) is basically about a fire mage and an ice mage. It fits well in the story and the fire/ice elements a...

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

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Are different levels of character development required for primary as opposed to secondary characters?

Primary characters would normally include the protagonist, antagonist, and maybe one or two "fellow travelers" of these. Secondary characters would consist of non-trivial characters that are not pr...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Tom Au‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Question regarding narration and 1st - 3rd person swaps

I'm currently in the process of writing my first novel, and I'm a little unsure about one of the main features of my writing process. To summarise quickly, what i intend to do is have a short sec...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by LjWalts‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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When to stop the story line?

Okay everybody. When is the proper time to stop the actual story and move on to a different part of the "world"? I need to know about what is going to be the proper way to end this story and move ...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by Aspen the Artist and Author‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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How much of a character's past/background should I let on?

I've been starting something really interesting lately, which is writing each of my main character's back story before writing the main book (If anyone is having the dreaded block or is looking for...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by J. Roberts‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Where do I write 'The End'?

Background Woohoo! I literally just finished right now my masterpiece trilogy that I have worked on for what seems like, ages... I'm a bit vexed as to where I should write 'the end'. The epilogu...

4 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Daniel Cann‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Do you pluralize a Roman numeral?

My work has Validation Engineers I, Validation Engineers II, Compliance Consultant I, Compliance Consultant II, etc. When discussing more than one person, do you write Validation Engineers II, Val...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by C Aaron N‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Worth writing, if end is obvious

I am currently sketching a novel about people at the end of time, some months or years before the Big Crunch: There is a space station full of people who can only sit and watch as their final momen...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Alexander von Wernherr‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Can you write a story using inanimate characters? [closed]

It seems a simple enough question,

1 answer  ·  posted 7y ago by Surtsey‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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How to: descriptive writing

I've been writing for a while now, and everyday I feel I'm getting more serious about it. But the quality of my fiction stories are straightforward and blah. I notice I'm not using enough descript...

1 answer  ·  posted 7y ago by A.N.M‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Copying Certain Information From A Official Website

Hey Guys I was researching on a assignment I have to submit to my university. When i was about to copy certain information i went under the "Terms of Use" seeing if i could copy the said informatio...

2 answers  ·  posted 7y ago by The Keeper‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Is it too cliche to have the villan of my story from a different planet?

I need to know because all of the anime that I watch have at least one character or more from another planet, and they're not usually friendly. I don't want to come off as one of those who "follow ...

2 answers  ·  posted 7y ago by Aspen the Artist and Author‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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In the digital age of Kindle and POD is a book ever finished?

About five years ago I self-published a novella "The Spoils of War". In the middle there's a section where the MC is packed of to Pakistan because the family don't want to face the embarrassment of...

1 answer  ·  posted 7y ago by Surtsey‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Formatting used when introducing a term

I found a previous post about introducing terms, but it doesn't quite answer my question. I have a more specific question about the punctuation used when introducing a term, and not how to stylisti...

1 answer  ·  posted 7y ago by stila‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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What I kind of project can I do for a writer's group to show that I have mastered character development?

I have begun writing a story about two city-states in the year 2307 in an arms race to create a time machine. The protagonist must regain the confidence of his old "sim stealing" gang whom he sold...

2 answers  ·  posted 7y ago by user9885‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭

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Act 3 totally broken...keep writing?

I'm ready to enter the final act, Act 3, of my (first big) story and by now I'm pretty sure I'll have to rewrite 50-70% in ACT 1 and 2. I outlined the whole story but it is clear that my main her...

3 answers  ·  posted 7y ago by Tim Dams‭  ·  last activity 4y ago by System‭