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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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What is the Current State-of-the-Art / Any Successful Experiements with EPUB Format?

As a zipped web-page, EPUB has long offered the possibility of completely changing how a book looks and feels with dynamic content and interactive content. But since EPUB came out (2007), I really...

3 answers  ·  posted 5mo ago by James McLellan‭  ·  last activity 4d ago by James McLellan‭

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For starting a blog, is a niche blog or general/misc content better?

I am thinking of starting a blog and wondering how I should approach it. Is it better to have a niche blog or is general/miscellaneous content fine?

4 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by yashikaissrani‭  ·  last activity 11d ago by Strider‭

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Steps in writing a university assignment paper

Can someone please explain me the steps in writing a university assignment paper.

1 answer  ·  posted 3mo ago by Baleonkennedy ‭  ·  last activity 3mo ago by arpitsinha‭

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Want to Expand my Writing Career as Freelancer [closed]

I've been working as a content writer and blogger for a few local agencies. I want to start freelancing this year but am slightly afraid to start. Could anyone help me how to start freelancing as a...

0 answers  ·  posted 4mo ago by proptijohn‭  ·  closed 4mo ago by Mithical‭

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Should writers shun cognate stems that share roots, because readers take longer to process these stems? [closed]

Question 1 Here I am asking about merely reading and writing. Do human readers take longer to distinguish between stems (and bases) that share the same root, even if merely picoseconds? For exa...

0 answers  ·  posted 4mo ago by TextKit‭  ·  closed 4mo ago by Canina‭

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Sphinx: API documentation: How to turn off creating links to Parameter/Argument link creation

For projects with API documentation generated by Sphinx, I've noticed that some project's don't include links to the Parameter/Argument types (str, file-like object, int, etc) and some projects do....

0 answers  ·  posted 4mo ago by CodeFarmer‭

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HTML tags versus CSS classes: is one preferred over the other for the same styling?

We publish documentation online using HTML. For things like fixed parameter names and other code literals, we use &lt;code&gt; tags. My question is about styling these in tables. On our referenc...

2 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 7mo ago by Canina‭

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Why didn't 18-19th century Anglophone authors shorten their sentences, by starting more with Majuscules? Why lengthen them with commas, (semi)colons?

Shorter sentences have been proven more readable. Thus why didn't the authors below sunder their lengthy sentences, prolongated by commas and (semi)colons? Why not divide them into shorter sentence...

0 answers  ·  posted 9mo ago by TextKit‭  ·  edited 9mo ago by TextKit‭

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Why didn't 18-19th century Anglophone authors shorten their sentences, by starting more with Majuscules? Why lengthen them with comma + conjunction? [duplicate]

Shorter sentences have been proven more readable. Thus why didn't the authors below sunder their lengthy sentences, prolongated by comma + conjunction? Why not divide them into shorter sentences s...

0 answers  ·  posted 9mo ago by TextKit‭  ·  edited 9mo ago by TextKit‭

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What is the correct way to mark a section as a translation?

I am often in the situation where I would like to cite a source in another language, and as such include my own translation alongside the quotation. I have been told that translation is a form of ...

1 answer  ·  posted 10mo ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 9mo ago by dsr‭

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Need basic tools and ways to practice and polish my writing skills

What are the ways to practice and improve basic writing, like content and creative writing? I am not planning to write or learn to write fictional stories. By creative writing, I mean the essential...

3 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by Michael16‭  ·  last activity 10mo ago by sinneddennis‭

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block-quotation narrative with dialogue

Over on the Judaism site, I summarized a narrative text in a block quotation. Because the narrative is well-known, I expected many people to skip the block quotation; therefore, I did not want it t...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  last activity 12mo ago by Mark Baker‭

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How can garden path sentences be used (and misused)?

"A garden path sentence is a grammatically correct sentence that starts in such a way that a reader's most likely interpretation will be incorrect; the reader is lured into a parse that turns out t...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by Paul A. Clayton‭  ·  last activity 12mo ago by gmcgath‭

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Why closed questions tend not to get reopened? [closed]

This post is about Q&amp;A websites in general. In StackExchange there is a culture of closing questions which do not reflect "the standards"; it's a culture that I as someone who uses SE since 20...

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by deleted user  ·  closed 1y ago by Canina‭

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For HTML documentation sets, are there meaningful guidelines for topic length?

We produce a large HTML documentation set with the conventional two-pane view: expandable table of contents on the left, selected topic on the right. When you select a topic, if it has subtopics --...

2 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Mark Baker‭

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How can we integrate a lightweight public ticketing system into our documentation feedback form?

We publish a substantial documentation set online. Each page has a place at the bottom that asks "was this helpful? (Y/N)", and if the person chooses "no" we offer a textbox. We collect all this ...

3 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Mark Baker‭

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How should I document a database schema?

I am going to be writing some user-facing documentation for a database that visitors can query. That is, the people writing queries are not the ones who created the database; they can come in, look...

3 answers  ·  posted 8y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 1y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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mice don't tap and tablet-users don't click: what word can I use for all audiences instead?

I am documenting features on a web site. The audience is end users, who could be anywhere from seasoned Internet veterans to relatively new people who came for my site's content but aren't general...

4 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 1y ago by Canina‭

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Do readers primarily identify with or judge heroes in a novel?

In this article about different categories of heroes, Matt Bird states that sensitive and unlucky heroes are hard to write because audiences have a hard time caring about them. He says: "Americans...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by icanfathom‭  ·  edited 1y ago by Canina‭

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In 2021, which publishers distribute novellas?

The Hugo awards are prominent fan awards in the SF&amp;F genre. In 2021, I noticed that all of the finalists in the Novella category are from a single publisher, Tor.com. Novellas have, I underst...

2 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Mark Baker‭

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How do I brainstorm for writing positively about myself?

I've always struggled writing about myself, but I need to apply for a program and the application has a lot of very broad but personal questions like, Tell us why you would be a good leader Exp...

2 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by Sigma‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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What is the possessive form of et al.?

When referring to a paper with multiple authors by using the name of the first author and "et al.", how does one indicate possession? For example, is it correct to write, "Einstein et al.'s paper ...

3 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by BR11‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by celtschk‭

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How do we prevent Madcap Flare from injecting non-breaking spaces in our documentation?

We use Madcap Flare for our documentation, and it has an annoying property: if you happen to have the shift key down when you type a space, it inserts a non-breaking space (&amp;#160;). Our docume...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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When else ought you introduce new material in a final paragraph?

Are there any other "times" for introducing new content into a final paragraph? Have any other famous writers substantiate this bombshell? I was flabbergasted to read this para. because mo...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by TextKit‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Mark Baker‭

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How would you pop the reference to a minor case into the ‘Application' section of an essay?

I don't understand the example emboldened below. Can't you add just a superscript number in the text, then in the footnotes cite that "minor case"? Unquestionably one superscript cannot "detract fr...

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by TextKit‭

law
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Using accents while staying legible

My character is using a hardly legible accent, or simply an accent which is not comfortable for a reader to read. For example: “Ye've caught us in th' middle o' supper. Seein' as how yer no bleedi...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Prahara‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by rodeng‭

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How do we get Flare to stop modifying .gitignore?

We use Madcap Flare for our documentation, and the project is checked into git. (In case this matters, this is a locally-hosted git server, not GitHub.) The project uses a .gitignore file to aver...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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What are some ways to encourage team members to contribute and maintain a centralized wiki?

I joined my current company and department a few years ago. We had some documentation for processes but most people had been around for a long time and never needed it, so it was very sparse. Sinc...

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

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Technical Writer Skill Set

As technology and industry demands evolve, what tools/skills should one focus on learning/improving as a technical writer?

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by yashikaissrani‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Mark Baker‭

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Help! Editing Tips? [closed]

Hey, I'm having trouble editing my book. I have a crime novella but I can't edit that well. Does anyone have any tips to help? Thanks! ~Rosewood

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Rosewood‭  ·  closed 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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Syntax summaries use brackets for optional elements; how do I represent literal brackets in a way readers will understand?

In our documentation of SQL functions and statements, we include a BNF-style syntax summary. As is conventional, we indicate optional elements in square brackets, like this: CREATE [IF NOT EXISTS]...

4 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Derek Elkins‭

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Adding tags to documentation built in Flare?

Our software documentation set (for a SQL analytics database platform) is large, because SQL and databases have many pieces. Often a single statement, function, or feature will be highly related to...

0 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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How can we make images with (necessary) text more translatable mechanically?

Our documentation set includes some diagrams, such as entity relationship diagrams and flowcharts, where text is integral and cannot reasonably be handled in callouts. Our documentation is translat...

1 answer  ·  posted 3y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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How can I highlight changes in HTML output from Flare, based on branch diff?

We use Madcap Flare for a large documentation set, with HTML output. (Flare source is a very HTML-y XML with some Flare-specific additions.) We use git for source control and new work is done on ...

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

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Is there any benefit when writing out instructions to split it up into lots of little paragraphs, or is it better to leave it in one paragraph?

I was putting together an instruction page (for setting up a game that my business created), which included a whole lot of various pointers, most of which were only a sentence or two long. These ex...

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

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How to determine relative success of different, similar books published by different means?

This answer discusses how to choose between traditional print publishing, ebook publishing, self publishing, etc., and concludes by stating that You should publish your book using the channel wher...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Canina‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by msh210‭

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What is the main publishing format authors should be using today?

I've recently begun investigating the publishing process, and what I as an author need to do to get my book read. I'm aware of the self-publishing option, but as I have not studied any options exte...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Thomas Myron‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Mark Baker‭

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Which parts of a character's plan should be revealed beforehand?

Two characters (one is a PoV character) come up with a plan to break a third out of prison. They succeed, with only minor complications. If I describe too many details of their plan beforehand, it ...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Evil Sparrow‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Razetime‭

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How to ask for permission to use readers' endorsements?

I have a blog with long, analytic articles. Because of their nature, they don't really attract much clicks. However, once people distill it thoroughly, many of them express that the articles are in...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Ooker‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Mark Baker‭

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At what point does a POV character noting their surroundings go from showing/telling to an infodump?

In a story I'm working on, at one point one of the main characters (also the POV character in this case) arrives at a new location which he has never been in before. This is the first mention of th...

7 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by Canina‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Mark Baker‭

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How to keep track of worthwhile snippets from discovery writing, which don't work where they were first written?

Sometimes, when I write, I find myself writing down a path that ends up not leading at all where I wanted to go with what I was writing. That's to be expected when discovery-writing. Depending on t...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Canina‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Mark Baker‭

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How can we format code examples so that they work on a range of devices?

We use Madcap Flare to produce a large documentation set that contains many code examples (primarily SQL, but also C++, Java, and Python) and command-line operations. When the doc set was first pl...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by manassehkatz‭

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Best practices for maintaining documented code examples?

A good SDK (software development kit) includes plenty of well-documented examples. It also includes good tutorials and developer guides, which introduce concepts in logical progressions, typically ...

4 answers  ·  posted 10y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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How to train readers in Argot or Slang

I have a character which is typical street thug, criminal and did his time in jail. He is using a lot of underground Argot and thug slang. Example below At the end we got the ice, gravy train if y...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Prahara‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Canina‭

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Is writing policy pages in a lighthearted manner harmful in any way?

Recently, I threw together a draft of a policy page about promotional content, with some guidelines on what to keep in mind to avoid spamming. (Incidentally, this is for Codidact itself.) I decided...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Mithical‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Mark Baker‭

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Everyone's a woman: how do you show that through gender-neutral language?

In my latest short story I'm playing around with common gender misconceptions. It's set in a near future society were men have disappeared, and all roles are taken up by women. The theme is played ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Liquid‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Prahara‭

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Dealing with Audience's expectations

Over the years I gained small audience and I love them. My last work quite disappoint them in regard of one character and I feel bad about it. I felt like character's struggle she went through woul...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Prahara‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Liquid‭

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Writing "light hearted" lead characters

For some reason, when I find myself writing a male protagonist, I seem to default to the brooding, gritty kind of man that could easily find his place into a noir novel. Those characters are often ...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Liquid‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Prahara‭

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Action scene pacing and clarity

I am using, for action scenes, this three act format which allows me to control pacing and create order in hectic environment: Action - analysis - reaction Johann fired (action) his pistol and mi...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Prahara‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Mark Baker‭

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In a young adult, what would cause development of a high sense of duty?

This is a question related to my previous question about child's morality, but different criteria are applied. Criteria and Question: My desired kid would be born commoner but from merchant class, ...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Prahara‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by gymbrall‭

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