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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208
votes
26answers
27k 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 ...
72
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21answers
5k 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. ...
60
votes
23answers
10k 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 ...
60
votes
4answers
12k views

What kind of protagonist or writing style is Jack Sparrow?

I want to ask about a certain style on how to present a character. I know Jack Sparrow is from a movie (and I've only watched the movies too) but I want to integrate in my writing how he was presented ...
55
votes
8answers
27k 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 ...
41
votes
14answers
9k views

What can a novel do that film and TV cannot?

I have enjoyed writing prose for years and have a few short stories penned. I would like to build up to a novel but believe I have identified a potential weakness in my storytelling. My style is ...
41
votes
14answers
12k 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 ...
40
votes
8answers
723k views

What is the correct usage of “P.S.” in Emails?

I've been wondering this for a while. What is the correct usage of "P.S." in e-mails? Where should and shouldn't it be used?
38
votes
4answers
3k 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?
38
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8answers
3k 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?
37
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5answers
2k views

How to write a nice frame challenge?

When answering questions on Stack Exchange, some of us challenge the assumptions of the author. These frame challenges can often be quite popular answers. This popularity, however, can simply be a ...
36
votes
7answers
5k views

Should software product release notes be in marketing voice or technical voice? (software documentation)

Typically, the voice of marketing content doesn't match the voice of technical content -- marketing is trying to persuade you that you need something; technical writing is generally instructing you ...
34
votes
10answers
9k views

My story is written in English, but is set in my home country. What language should I use for the dialogue?

I'm an amateur writer from the Philippines. I am writing a novelette for an international writing contest. My story is written in English, but is set here, in my country, with my POV character being ...
34
votes
12answers
7k views

Want to write, have ideas, no story telling techniques or experience, feeling lost?

I have developed a sci-fi/fantasy mixed universe with many characters, good amount of background lore and I have a plot for at least two different stories each for a single/multi novel length. So far ...
32
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3answers
2k views

Explicitly correcting yourself while writing - how appropriate is it ?

Like so: He worries – well, not worries, but laments a little – that he senses people don't read Henry James anymore (sentence source: Monkey See, NPR Blogs ) I've used this style myself ...
30
votes
2answers
2k views

When should modifiers be avoided?

I've come across this Mark Twain quote: When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them -- then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close ...
29
votes
11answers
3k 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 ...
29
votes
4answers
17k views

Dashes vs. Commas vs. parentheses?

Occasionally I write sentences containing subparts with extra information. I never know how to block off this information from the rest of the sentence. Three ways I have seen are dashes, commas, and ...
28
votes
7answers
11k views

Mother is writing a book, thinks writing her life stories is same as telling them [closed]

My mother is a celebrity in a small niche world. Her contribution and experiences are wonderful and should be told. She says she can't write a book, so she has settled on a book that is something else,...
28
votes
14answers
8k views

Are reactive protagonists inherently a bad thing?

I'm just getting into writing and while reading about it I've found a lot of topics which claim that reactive protagonists are generally frowned upon. Reactive: Acting in response to a situation ...
28
votes
3answers
4k views

Reasons for confusion over tenses in a story

When writing stories in past tense (which is majority of the time) whether it be an essay for class or an unassembled essay for home and in my own time, I often find myself writing some of my ...
28
votes
11answers
86k 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 ...
28
votes
3answers
45k 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 ...
27
votes
7answers
6k views

Is it necessary to use chapters for fiction?

Life doesn't happen in chapters — at least, not regular ones. Nor do movies. Homer didn't write in chapters. I can see what their purpose is in children's books ("I'll read to the end of the chapter, ...
27
votes
10answers
4k views

Using colloquialisms the reader may not be familiar with

I'm from Ireland, most of my stories take place in Ireland, and many of my characters will speak with Irish accents and/or dialects to varying degrees. For the most part I think this is OK, and can ...
27
votes
13answers
5k 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 ...
27
votes
4answers
39k views

Referencing figure in text - capitalize the word “Figure” or not? Why?

I see it quite a lot. It looks a bit like this: It can be seen in Figure 3 that... My gut feeling is that there is no reason to scream in the middle of a perfectly calm sentence. I would like to ...
26
votes
2answers
3k views

How to make readers know that my work has used a hidden constraint?

According to this wikipedia article, Constrained writing is a literary technique in which the writer is bound by some condition that forbids certain things or imposes a pattern. The same link also ...
26
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
25
votes
13answers
7k views

Can I conceal an antihero's insanity - and should I?

I have an idea for an anti-heroic sci-fi character whose character arc runs from spoilt rich girl, to a refugee in the rubble of human civilisation after an alien invasion, to crewmember and then ...
25
votes
13answers
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 ...
25
votes
11answers
2k 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 ...
25
votes
7answers
7k 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. ...
24
votes
9answers
6k views

Does everything have to be accurate?

Do I have to make everything apply to logic, physics, science, etc? The Harry Potter series has been a major hit, and it is nowhere near to being scientifically possible. But I've noticed that I can'...
24
votes
10answers
13k views

What can I do to make my writing fit the 1950s?

I'm working on a project (for a game) that needs to have a strongly 1950s feel. I, however, was born in the 1980s, so my writing has plenty of things that would sound out of place in the 1950s. For ...
24
votes
2answers
25k 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,...
22
votes
17answers
5k views

Are complex sentences uncommon or unwanted in English?

I wrote my opinion essay using a lot of different complex grammatical structures, linking words and so on, and some of the sentences were even over 4 lines long. However, I was afterwards told by my ...
22
votes
8answers
5k views

How to get readers to care about a dead character?

My story happens as a result of one of the main characters getting murdered. I'm wondering how to get readers to care about someone who's not even in the story (as far as the readers know anyway) or ...
22
votes
5answers
5k 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?
22
votes
9answers
10k 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. ...
22
votes
3answers
8k 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 ...
21
votes
4answers
3k views

What constitutes misleading the reader

I'm as novice a writer as one can get so please bear with me. I have read many times that a writer shouldn't mislead the reader otherwise the reader will lose trust in the author and lose his ...
21
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
21
votes
9answers
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 ...
21
votes
8answers
3k views

Is it frustrating not to know the narrator's gender?

I have written a 1st person piece and reading it I realize it's very difficult to tell if the narrator is male or female. There are one or two clues, and they come pretty late in the piece. Would ...
21
votes
2answers
5k views

How should I quote American English speakers in a British English essay?

I am working on a formal essay where I have to quote a few American English speakers, but my essay is written in British English. Should I change terms like color to colour?
21
votes
4answers
794 views

As a non-native English speaker, Is it better to get translated or get copyedited for long texts?

My English level is average. I can write fluently and my vocabulary is not too limited. With the thought in mind that the end result must be perfect, is it better for me to write my long text (100 ...
20
votes
9answers
7k views

I have 97 pages in my book draft. Is it too late to swap to third person from first?

I've been writing a One Piece fan fiction to improve my writing. I foolishly decided to write it in first person and now I kinda want to change it to third person - but I'm already 97 pages into the ...
20
votes
7answers
3k views

How do you earn the reader's trust?

Recently, I have stumbled upon a problem. After releasing an issue, I think that I failed to earn the trust of my readers. My analysis is that they did not have enough faith in me to make the "...
19
votes
14answers
6k views

What pronoun should a hermaphrodite species use?

In my fantasy novel, I have a species that is fully hermaphroditic: all individuals have both male and female reproductive organs. Like garden snails. Consequently, they have only one gender. They ...

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