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Questions tagged [style]

This tag should be used for questions that deal with a consistent style in your writing, such as when asking about typical ways to introduce a certain aspect to your reader by showing-telling or if you are concerned that your readers might feel that a change in the point of view might be perceived as inconcsistency.

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223 votes
26 answers
31k views

The "Rules" of Writing

There are a lot of axioms that get tossed around in creative writing courses, books on writing, and of course, the Internet. Often, these little gems are explained to new writers as though they were ...
22 votes
5 answers
6k views

I'm getting tired of "he said" "she said" in dialogue; how do I get around it?

I get tired of "he said", "she said", "they replied". Is there a better, but still reasonable way, to indicate dialogue?
RolandiXor's user avatar
26 votes
11 answers
3k views

Tips for expanding my vocabulary?

Looking back through my texts, I noticed that I often use a lot of the same words and resort to using quite a basic vocabulary. I was wondering if there are any good exercises or anything else for ...
pHneuma's user avatar
  • 648
13 votes
7 answers
3k views

When should a chapter end?

When writing a novel, when should I end a chapter? Note that I'm not talking about chapter word-count (that topic was discussed here). I'm interested to know when should I end my chapters ...
Ido Tamir's user avatar
  • 1,411
25 votes
7 answers
8k views

What are the most common style manuals?

From Wikipedia: A style guide or style manual is a set of standards for the writing and design of documents, either for general use or for a specific publication, organization or field. ...
Josh Leitzel's user avatar
61 votes
23 answers
12k views

Choosing character names is a constant difficulty

I find it hard to name my characters. Every normal name sounds funny if applied to a product of my fantasy. If I take a common name, I may get the image of someone I know into my head. And that may ...
Mnementh's user avatar
  • 2,032
21 votes
9 answers
2k views

Something different: Help me find the unnecessary words.

I had a professor, once upon a time, a guy named Jim Guetti. He was possibly the best writing coach I've ever had. You took his classes for the privilege of submitting works for him to gut with a red ...
Satanicpuppy's user avatar
  • 2,399
14 votes
5 answers
38k views

How to avoid using "he/she/it" repetitively in action

I'm writing a zombie apocalypse genre book (yes, I know it's a heavily used and abused writing genre, but I'm writing it in my way, a way I believe is a good way). Anyway, I caught myself writing &...
A. Kvåle's user avatar
  • 4,043
12 votes
5 answers
2k views

How should dialog be formatted?

Is there any "official" rule that I should keep in mind when formatting character dialog? Line breaks, placement of quotes, mixing dialog with action descriptions etc. For example, I want to build a ...
Ido Tamir's user avatar
  • 1,411
3 votes
4 answers
860 views

Direct thoughts

The most commonly given advice for using direct thoughts seems to be to format them in italics. I am not really satisfied with that, however. I haven't seen this used anywhere (granted, I do not read ...
Gwen Ives's user avatar
74 votes
21 answers
6k views

How to overcome the fact that I can't write?

My problem is that I basically suck at writing. Especially prose. Part of it is basically because I don't practice as much as I could. Part of it is because I'm just not talented in that way. ...
Jakub Hampl's user avatar
39 votes
8 answers
6k views

When is it okay to "tell", instead of "show"?

One of the major mantras of writing fiction is "show, don't tell". Is it ever okay to tell? When?
StrixVaria's user avatar
  • 5,943
10 votes
2 answers
768 views

What is generally the accepted format style for telepathic communication in the midst of verbal communication?

At this point in my story, it's already been revealed that 2 characters share a telepathic link with one another that allows them to communicate to each other with their minds. "Now before we ...
Memor-X's user avatar
  • 1,042
1 vote
1 answer
9k views

Do you italicize fictional company names?

Generally in fiction writing, you don't italicize company names (even though you would italicize the name of a newspaper). But what do you do if the company name is fictional, especially a name that ...
big_smile's user avatar
  • 183
14 votes
3 answers
700 views

How to create space

Recently, a few snippets of my fiction have received critiques along the lines of 'Does not give a sense of space'. Or 'needs more description, sights and sounds'. I think where I am going wrong is ...
M.A's user avatar
  • 462
4 votes
5 answers
505 views

Punctuating Thoughts

Following my question here I am still unsure if it is a 'hard and fast' rule to italicise thoughts. My preference is to use normal quotation marks, so that if a person is thinking in a dialogue ...
Javeer Baker's user avatar
  • 1,430
56 votes
8 answers
35k views

"All of a sudden..." ?

I am writing a manuscript for a novel. It's my first attempt, and often I find myself wanting to write "suddenly" or "all of a sudden". I do this when I want the scene to change in an instant, or ...
Tim Chaves's user avatar
40 votes
4 answers
4k views

How do you avoid purple prose?

I try to watch out for bland, overused adjectives and I keep adverbs to a minimum but -- I hear this phrase a lot and I'm not even sure what it means?
Ben's user avatar
  • 719
23 votes
3 answers
10k views

What's with all the hate on adjectives and adverbs?

Ok, I'm starting to get a feel for this, but I'm hoping someone can explain it more clearly for me. I learned in all my English classes that sensory imagery is important, which naturally involves a ...
brianmearns's user avatar
18 votes
9 answers
4k views

Referencing modern pop culture in science fiction

A geek today is quite likely to reference the pop culture of 30 years ago: "Do or do not, there is no try", "Beam me up, Scotty" and "Ground control to Major Tom" are easily and commonly recognisable. ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
14 votes
8 answers
3k views

How do I stop my writing sounding like a bad imitation of whatever author I've just been reading?

I like to read across a variety of authors, genres, and publication dates. Whenever I sit down to write something of my own immediately after marathoning a book or series, I tend to unconsciously use ...
Kitkat's user avatar
  • 265
14 votes
5 answers
641 views

How do you find your unique style?

Let me preface this by saying I am quite young as writers go, only 20. Oftentimes as I am writing, I find myself simulating the style of whatever I most recently read-- sometimes the clipped and ...
temporary_user_name's user avatar
13 votes
5 answers
2k views

When is a prologue useful?

Prologues tend to get a bad rap on the internet, and sometimes for good reason. They're often used by as an excuse to start a novel with an info-dump. However, it seems to me that people often ...
sjohnston's user avatar
  • 4,765
11 votes
2 answers
485 views

Colloquial speech in pre-modern setting

Following this question, I'm struggling with writing the speech of pre-modern (in my case - 5th century) noble-born children among themselves. Characters who are well-educated would not be making ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
6k views

Are contractions antithetical to academic writing?

This question is very specific to academic writing: I used the contraction "don't" instead of "do not" in some of the papers. Some of the reviewers mentioned that "don't" is not a formal style of ...
Dexter's user avatar
  • 191
9 votes
4 answers
580 views

How to write a good fight/action scene?

It dawned on me the other day, after struggling through a fight scene, that I am lost when it comes to writing action. I usually write slower, dialogue-heavy scenes, and I have become used to taking ...
Brittany Wright's user avatar
8 votes
8 answers
2k views

How can I stop overusing "I" in my writing?

I won't edit this question, so you can see how much I use it. The current count is 3 times. I've been told that the solution is to revise, revise, revise, but is there a particular strategy for ...
pentavalentcarbon's user avatar
8 votes
5 answers
464 views

"Too modern" words

In a story set in a fantasy version of 5th century Persia, I've been told by a beta reader that a boy wouldn't call his father "dad", (would use "father" instead), wouldn't say "no spoilers", etc. I ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
338 views

Punctuation-Quote or Quote-Punctuation?

I'm writing a document using the Chicago Manual of Style. I don't have access to the full guide, only to what's provided on-line. Now I wondering as to whether, in the main text itself, I should use ...
neydroydrec's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
5k views

How do you write a character's internal monologue?

I've seen two main methods of writing a character's inner monologue One is to use italics Dean is being silly thought Sam Another is to quote the text "Dean is being silly" thought Sam Or you could ...
Liath's user avatar
  • 1,900
2 votes
2 answers
555 views

Period outside quotation marks ...?

I am quoting a phrase (not dialog) that happens to come at the end of a sentence. Formal writing protocol - I think - tells us that punctuation goes inside the quotes but it seems strange here. A ...
CJ Cornell's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
252 views

What free tools are there to help me improve my English?

I am in the process of writing a research paper in Computer Science. Are there any free tools/browser plugins/web sites/latex plugins that would help me improve my English? I am looking for some nice ...
user1982's user avatar
  • 121
43 votes
16 answers
13k views

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 ...
Anoplexian's user avatar
33 votes
11 answers
120k views

Should I indent the first line of the first paragraph in a chapter?

I was reading a thesis report of a friend and I noticed that he didn't indent the first line of the first paragraph in each chapter. I don't remember noticing it anywhere before until I saw it there ...
Lipis's user avatar
  • 433
31 votes
12 answers
4k views

What's Essential In A Combat Scene?

I've just been reading a bunch of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books. Although they were the most enjoyable read I'd had in ages I always found myself skimming long segments that described involved ...
One Monkey's user avatar
  • 7,916
30 votes
3 answers
53k views

Which words should not be capitalized in Title Case?

I would need a list of all words that are not capitalized in English titles. I would also like to make sure if it's true, that all first and last words of a title are capitalized no matter what. I'd ...
gligoran's user avatar
  • 403
29 votes
13 answers
6k views

Could I reach the level of good writing style as non-native language speaker?

I currently write in Russian, but I think of switching to English to gain more audience and to play with both languages and linguistics. So could I ever reach the level of native English writers and ...
Dan Ganiev's user avatar
  • 1,981
28 votes
9 answers
3k views

Should I avoid modern words/phrases in fantasy writing?

When writing, I tend to want to use words or phrases that have meaning in the real world, but wouldn't necessarily have meaning in the world in which I'm writing. For example, in a fantasy world, a ...
StrixVaria's user avatar
  • 5,943
26 votes
2 answers
35k views

What are widely-used UK-English style guides?

In the UK, what are the equivalents to Chicago Manual of Style, the Associated Press style guide, Yahoo, APA, MLA, etc? Most importantly, what are their intended audiences? (AP is used for journalists,...
Goodbye Stack Exchange's user avatar
25 votes
13 answers
5k views

What makes writing emotional?

Over the years, my English professors seem to have agreed on one thing: that I'm a superb technical writer, but terrible at eliciting emotional response in something like a story or an argumentative ...
user avatar
22 votes
7 answers
7k views

Is head-hopping always bad?

The general consensus nowadays seems to be that being in the head of more than one character is bad. We should be "on the shoulders" or "in the head" of one character, and one character only, if not ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
22 votes
9 answers
12k views

What breaks suspension of disbelief?

So much of Sci-Fi and Fantasy requires the viewer (or reader) to suspend their disbelief: The speed of light can be circumvented, magic works, vampires are real (and may or may not sparkle), etc. ...
Jeff's user avatar
  • 323
19 votes
11 answers
7k views

How to write realistic female dialogue

I just can't make my dialogue sound like it's being said by a woman. As a friend of mine pointed out, "This woman talks just like you, Jack." I tried imitating the speech patterns of various females ...
Yehuda Shapira's user avatar
19 votes
6 answers
3k views

Avoiding Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy

Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy is when the audience is put off by the incredibly dark nature of a fictional work and won't care what happens next, lose interest or want all the characters to die off....
user avatar
19 votes
7 answers
113k views

Must every piece of speech get its own paragraph?

I've had a few people read pieces of narrative writing I've done, and they seem to take issue with the fact that I sometimes put a piece of speech inline with the rest of a non-dialogue paragraph, ...
Joe Z.'s user avatar
  • 589
16 votes
5 answers
2k views

How can I learn how to outline, so I can write like an architect?

I've just watched one part of Brandon Sanderson's lecture on writing, the section entitled Gardeners & Architects and I realised I'm a Gardener, almost exclusively. This often ends up with me ...
ProseFerret's user avatar
15 votes
7 answers
1k views

What helpful writing exercises do you use?

The two I do most are dialog and description related. When I meet a person or I'm just sitting people watching, I try to write their description in my head as if I was describing a character in a ...
15 votes
4 answers
5k views

In end user documentation, should screenshots come before or after the text that references them?

The end user documentation I'm writing makes use of screenshots (and partial screenshots) to show the user what I'm referring to in procedural instructions or conceptual explanations of the software. ...
Matthew Rodatus's user avatar
14 votes
2 answers
2k views

Striking the balance between dialogue and narrative

I am participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. I have never in my life written so much of a single story. Although I am supposed to tell my inner editor to shut up this month, she is ...
Kit Z. Fox's user avatar
  • 1,995
14 votes
8 answers
3k views

What are the limits to description in story writing? How do I know if I have crossed them?

Time and time again, I have been told that my unfounded focus on description distracts from the main story line. I mostly write stories in English, which doesn't happen to be my first language but I'm ...
Soha Farhin Pine's user avatar

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