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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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Is my story a rip-off?

So basically I'm writing a story set in a magical world where there are separate covens, each with different mission statements (there is one for those who want to be healers, one for those who wan...

2 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by Wurrie Wart‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Do you need to have an introduction at the beginning of every book in a series?

A series I am working on deals with an underlying storyline that progresses through each book. I'm afraid of confusing a reader if they decide to start reading a book somewhere in the middle of the...

1 answer  ·  posted 5y ago by K. Bailey‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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What English version of the bible should I quote from?

Say I want to quote from the bible in something I'm writing (think the famous passage in Pulp Fiction). What bible version should I quote from? I've done some research but only ended up more confu...

8 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by ggambett‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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What do you call a narrator who is not unreliable, but is naive?

While an unreliable narrator is someone who is deceiving the reader (or possibly himself), there are plenty of stories where the narrator is truthfully relaying what happened, but does not fully un...

3 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by Graham Powell‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Writing differently when following different character POVs - mainly age difference. (3rd Person)

I'm writing a sci-fi novel with more than one main character. Since I'm not an experienced writer, I still struggle with some basic "rules" within writing that may or may not exist. This issue ...

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

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How to deal with nameless characters?

In the novel I'm planning the human characters that inhabit the world are all clones of each other. Man and woman. They aren't given names when born, instead they are given serial numbers that also...

2 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by Victor Matheus‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Does a story necessarily need a theme?

I'm writing a short story From what I understand, the theme is the message that I want to send across. Akin to Beauty and the Beast's "Don't judge a book by its cover" theme, or "Opposites attract...

2 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by Dylan Beck‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How do I incorporate Vocabulary in my writing that I already know?

I seem to have this problem where I know a lot of words but can't always seem to think them up when I write an article or a story. I know the meaning of most of these words, but when I write, some ...

4 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by Rio1210‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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What's better in fiction: to make personal statements or universal statements?

Here's an example from my own writing: Watching the ceiling fan stir my thoughts, I said, “His favorite thing was to tell me about his day.” Mrs. Saeki gawked at me behind her square gla...

2 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by alex‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Is this an example of an unreliable narrator?

I've been writing a mystery story recently, but I've run into a problem concerning the major plot twist, and was hoping for some guidance from more experienced writers. Here's the scenario: Perso...

2 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by moe‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How do I include translations without ruining the flow of the text?

A character speaks two languages throughout the whole plot. How to insert the translation of the other language without ruining the layout of the story or text? For example: "Guten tag, Herr X...

2 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by J. Roberts‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Will bookstores order a self-published book if customers request it?

If a book is not returnable, has a wholesaler discount of 45% and costs £10.99, does a book store sell this book if a customer comes into a store and wants to order it? In short: Is a book still a...

3 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by del4y‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Should a reader have enough information to deduce the twist?

When building a twist into the ending, should I leak enough information such that astute readers could predict the twist if they stopped and mulled it over or should I withhold key elements to guar...

3 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by user2859458‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How do I end a comedy sketch?

I have a premise, which I think is funny/clever. I want to write this as a comedy sketch, to be acted out or shot on video. I have three "scenes" which are basically three different re-capitulatio...

3 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by user151841‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How to write a manipulative protagonist that the audience can connect with

I've created a manipulative sort of protagonist, one who enjoys mind games, blackmail, systematically destroying people who've wronged her, that sort of thing. I personally find her very interesti...

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

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Too Long for Title/Subtitle?

I was considering naming my book "Cherry on Top." However, because this may be hard to search for on Google, I was going to add a subtitle. Perhaps make the full title/subtitle "Cherry on Top: Not ...

1 answer  ·  posted 5y ago by AddalynnMoore‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How to prevent confusion when writing in two POVs that don't alternate between scenes?

I'm writing a short story structured like this: Character A's POV * * * Character B's POV * * * Character B's POV * * * Character A's POV * * * Character B's POV * * * Based on the firs...

1 answer  ·  posted 5y ago by alex‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Am I Breaking Too Many Rules?

I've finally committed to writing my first novel. I've been listening to things like Writing Excuses which encourages first time writers to finish their works, but I'm definitely writing an old dar...

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

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Formatting multiple languages while avoiding italics for native speakers in their POV

Looking at this question, I was trying to figure out how to format a small family of novels and short stories that use a number of languages. My original approach went with the above question's sty...

2 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by dmoonfire‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Where does the "black moment" fall in a novel?

I'm currently learning about story structure and there's not much consensus on the "black moment" or "all is lost lull" that happens around Act 2. Is this moment of defeat before or after the secon...

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

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How much work does a (nonfiction) ghostwriter typically do?

I just finished the charming short memoir from actor Cary Elwes, As You Wish, about his experiences while filming The Princess Bride. The voice sounds very much like Elwes, but the cover clearly sa...

2 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by Lauren Ipsum‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Are there any successful precedents of "gentle" fourth-wall-breaking?

The following is a paraphrased snippet of something I wrote, it is a conversation between the protagonist--a nihilist teenage boy--and an alien sociologist who communicates to him via telepathy, so...

1 answer  ·  posted 5y ago by user289661‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Can this sentence have the same detail and yet be simple to comprehend? [closed]

While inside the weatherbeaten maternity hut lit by a single candle, out of the dark shadow of its mother's womb, the most unusual child ever seen in the village was delivered; and while the...

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

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How does one write a misanthropic character likeable?

Let's say the character has over the years grown to dislike humans because he had many negative experiences with them, and is disappointed in humanity itself. How does one write such a character wi...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by DarkYagami‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Creating clues for a mystery subplot

I am working on a story in which the characters must solve a mystery. It's a "team-building exercise" at school, in which they must work together. They are graded on how well they work together and...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by FlyingPiMonster‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How do I fix a text wall when I already have one?

When I write answers to questions on the stack exchange network my end result is often quite lengthy. While length itself isn't a problem for me, sometimes my answers end up like this. This happens...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by Please stop being evil‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How to handle translation of a language in a comic, while preserving a sense that the language is significant?

I am producing a comic in which a fictional language is frequently spoken. This language (and which characters are able to speak it) is significant to the plot, so it's important that the reader ...

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

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What Can Ensure Re-Readability?

I've come across some answers and questions on this site which have gotten me thinking about re-readability. It isn't something that I think about much, but now that I consider it, I think it could...

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

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Self inserts that have influence from your life

I saw this question being asked and it lead me to wonder something.... It seems that self inserting your.... person is not considered good practice or should be kept to a minimal. So my question p...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by ggiaquin16‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Is it a bad idea to adopt an 'English' pen name as an Asian American writer to reach a wider audience?

There is currently a dearth of Asian American writers on U.S. library bookshelves, and those few authors who are Asian Americans tend to write about things associated with Asian culture. Think of A...

8 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Sharpie‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Who owns the copy if a copywriter provides copy as a paid service?

I build websites. I've used a copywriter to provide the website copy, the client paid the writer directly. I placed copyright signs on the site for the writer as requested. However, they have now ...

4 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Dano007‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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"Quote" within a quote MLA

So I have a quote that has double quotation marks inside it. Would I leave those in? Or replace them with single quotes? In Carolyn Gregoire’s article “What Your 'Life Story' Really Says About...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by Cullub‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Is there a way to improve my grammar without so much cost? [closed]

I'm definitely poor at English and I always have grammatical errors. After posting a question about what apps can I use to start writing my stories, I searched in this site if how can I improve my...

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

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How do I improve "beige" text?

I have a tendency to write text that's on the "beige" side. I think it's the engineer in me that tends to write text that's very straightforward and strictly factual. To a certain degree, that's go...

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

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Is it bad not to explain things?

Background So I see a lot of questions on the site like this. They're all about deeply explaining worldbuilding and stuff, doing all of that explaining type of thing. Normally, I just skip that. F...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Daniel Cann‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How do you write dialog for a character with malapropism without it seeming forced?

I have a character who has a tendency towards malapropism but I find that in every sentence she speaks I am re-reading it and finding words to replace. ie. (actual - translation) "Inquisition, ...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by Memor-X‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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"The flux capacitor--it's what makes time travel possible." When to keep world-building explanations short

Gosh, I really think I'm quite clever sometimes. But what about those situations where the readers (audience) can be told, and they feel completely satiated and entertained by not going into the nu...

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

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Ways of describing new characters?

What are some good ways to describe the looks of a new character presented in a story? I generally mention eye and hair color, physical build and maybe if they have facial hair or not. But to me it...

3 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Osiris93‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How to introduce alien flora/fauna without turning the fiction into a biology book?

Got advised on Worldbuilding’s Sandbox to post here, so here I am. I don’t even know if the word “alien” applies here because to the eyes of the characters, those animals and plants won’t be alien...

5 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by rschpdr‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How to show a brief hesitation around a word

When we speak, there are often small pauses between syntactic units such as sentences. In writing, these pauses are signified by punctuation: I can come if you want. (without pause) I can ...

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

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Naming non-English folklore creatures

I'm working on a novel that involves folklore/mythological creatures from mainly the Norse and Scandinavian myths, but in the world of the novel, there exists beings from all cultures. I wish to wr...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by sororicida‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Romance without cliche?

My school is doing a romance writing competition and there is no cliche allowed. But that is the only way I know how to write romance. I mean, I haven't read a single book that hasn't had a bit of ...

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

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Is it bad storytelling to have things happen by complete chance?

Background I recently noticed in my latest masterpiece novel there is quite a lot of things happening by chance. For example: The main character just happens to pass by an old, frail warrior w...

6 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Daniel Cann‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How do I gain sufficient emotional distance from my work to edit it?

This question was asked by a member of my critique group at the beginning of the month and I've been stewing over it for a while now. I still don't have any better ideas, so I'm turning to you. How...

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

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A long backstory right at the beginning

Just as I heard from various sources, a plot has to start with what the reader will find through most of it. And that's what I did, the first scene shown is the main event that triggers the story. ...

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

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Should capitalization be used for emphasis for a character's tone?

Capitalization in a text has been something heavily debated in the writing community due to its nature as being preference based, and finding a hard set answer is fairly difficult. However, should ...

2 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Kyle Li‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Creating a story in which the hero(es) lose

So I am still in the primitive stages of creating my own world and story, if I even do it that is. I am still trying to get a feel for where I want to go with it. The biggest issue would be that,...

3 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by ggiaquin16‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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How many rewrites should a writer expect for a novel?

"By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Goo...

3 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Richard Stanzak‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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Tips on engaging the audience in the first chapter?

What are some tips you would recommend to immediately attract a reader, or make the story interesting enough to continue reading? I want to know if there are any specific techniques or ways that y...

1 answer  ·  posted 6y ago by Kyle Li‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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What if my story seems too similar to a particular movie?

I'm writing a story about fictional beings who have the power of the four elements. Only very few, very rare people posses the power of all four elements while most only have one. My main character...

3 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by M. McGarry‭  ·  last activity 3y ago by System‭

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