Questions tagged [word-choice]

This tag should be used for questions about choosing the right words for the context of your writing. Questions about etymology and grammar are off-topic.

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10
votes
3answers
2k views

How to have a character be nameless for the first few paragraphs of a book?

Let me first explain what is going in in the beginning of the story: My main character belongs to a tribal culture that requires their children pass a rite of passage to earn their name. So I'm kind ...
20
votes
7answers
7k views

How much detail is too much?

I've read a few amateur stories online and sometimes the author will include so much detail that the reader gets a little bored or distracted and forgets what the actual story is talking about. How do ...
39
votes
7answers
22k views

How do I say that a character said something without resorting to “said Character” every time?

I have one big problem with my writing - when I'm doing dialogue, I find myself writing it and following it with "said Character" quite a lot. I can mix it up sometimes by using a synonym or ...
32
votes
11answers
14k views

Using fake swear words without them seeming out of place to the reader

This is not a question about slang, but about swearing and word creation. I have a character who uses swear words, and this is part of his voice. I do not use real swear words. I want the sense of ...
11
votes
2answers
424 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 ...
82
votes
9answers
15k views

Using real words from a foreign culture feels like 'Calling a rabbit a “smeerp”'

I'm working on a novel, that's set in pre-Islamic Persia, in the same general way that The Lord of the Rings is set in Britain. (Meaning, it's set in a world all its own, but there's this source of ...
16
votes
11answers
6k 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 ...
22
votes
15answers
5k views

How much swearing is TOO much? (And how much is not enough?)

I've noticed that some of the most successful writers refrain from using profanity, such as Stephanie Meyer and Norman Mailer. Are readers turned off by swearing in books? More importantly, is it ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

Acquiring vocabulary to write fiction [duplicate]

I am a non-native speaker, learning the English language, and I am already fairly good in reading and writing technical texts. I also enjoy reading fiction books much, but there's one thing that hits ...
26
votes
12answers
6k views

How do I define smells I have never experienced?

I am a lifelong writer, who was also born without an ability to smell. I have been trained to engage the reader by applying the five senses, or as many of the five as is practical without becoming ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Is concurrent first person / third person usage absolutely unacceptable?

Background: My understanding about first person / third person is this: choose a voice and maintain it throughout the piece. However, when writing marketing-type information, I find myself switching ...
7
votes
5answers
392 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
397 views

How do I get rid of overused words in my story?

I did a word frequency analysis on my story. Unsurprisingly, the most over-used words often corresponded to passages where I was lazy with my description. I'm tackling my over-used words "laughed" ...
6
votes
7answers
322 views

How to not change my mind

(Sorry if this isn't the best title.) I've been writing for about 6 months now. And everything I write I feel as if it isn't good enough, or it was just a bad chapter, sentence, or even choice of ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Swearing - Censor, allude, or include?

I was reading this thread, but it didn't quite the answer a question I had about creative writing and whether profanity should be used or not, in a way that is best for creative storytelling. Here's ...
36
votes
8answers
8k views

How do I stop using 'the' to start sentences so much?

Something that always bothers me in my writing is how often I start sentences with the word "the". A terrible nonsensical example: The dog ran through the rain-swept streets, chasing a ball he ...
8
votes
2answers
26k views

Alternative word for “she”

I am writing about a female person. I noticed most of my sentences start with "she". Is there a way to avoid using this pronoun too many times, and use an alternative word instead? I have tried ...
8
votes
3answers
4k views

How to describe a diverse set of characters without falling into purple prose or exoticism?

In my setting, a city was founded by people from all over the world, and developed in almost complete isolation (long version here). The story in itself starts several generations after the foundation....
45
votes
15answers
20k views

If I'm writing in US English, am I not allowed to use the metric system?

For example, can I say this if my book is written in US English (in non-dialog): The car was going at least 140 kilometers per hour! Or should I convert them to miles or what have you? It's for a ...
13
votes
9answers
2k views

How to expand my vocabulary? [duplicate]

I wanted to write something for a long time. But what I think is, in writing the choice of words plays a very significant role. From where I can learn this thing? I think I don't have enough words in ...
7
votes
1answer
5k views

When to use the character's name and when to use she/he?

This is the first short story where I'm using actual names for the characters. Here is a sample: "Sorry for the question," Jun said. "But why don' you have friends?" Ling glanced at him, then ...
6
votes
3answers
205 views

How do I ensure what I am writing captures what I'm feeling as I write it?

If I want a character to respond with anger, I want the reader to understand why the character is angry. I want the reader to be caught up in the the events that lead to that anger and be given reason ...
6
votes
4answers
321 views

think, I think, I don't think

I use "think", "I think" and "I don't think" in my writing a lot. Can you suggest a few ways to reduce it and few alternative ways of saying the same thing? Look at the below sentences I have written....
4
votes
2answers
108 views

Repetitive sentences

How do I start off sentences without them being too repetitive and boring? I have a problem of starting a sentence with something like "The person" and end up using "The person" in the next one again.
3
votes
2answers
311 views

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 to ...
3
votes
3answers
797 views

When Choosing Labels/titles for Characters instead of their names

This is probably a repeat of a previous question, but I have a slightly different problem when writing. I don't always want to refer to characters by their names (if I do, then I run into problems ...
2
votes
3answers
441 views

Female Pet Names that a Londoner might use?

I was wondering about female pet names, like darling, sweetie, pet, babe, etc. One of my characters refers to his other half as "pet" but I've been told that this is common to the North East (UK). As ...
2
votes
3answers
208 views

How to talk about certain anatomy without sounding vulgar or cowardly?

Let's talk about butts, because butts are safe, but really this question is for other parts of the anatomy as well. There are 100s of words for butt. They seem to fall into one of a few categories. ...
10
votes
6answers
5k views

Is P.S. (Post Script) still useful in the age of email?

"Post script is usually written when a writer forgets to write something on the main body of the letter and wants to add on to what he had written on the letter." But in this age of email and word ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Finding words through meanings

Is there a place or a type of dictionary or even a good method, that instead of searching for a word, I can search for a meaning and get more words that have similar idea or meaning? For example, if ...
3
votes
2answers
8k views

Opening paragraphs of a short story set in an aquarium

I'm writing a short story about a schoolgirl who is visiting an aquarium (this setting is connected with her past and with the conflict of the story). Sophia found herself walking through a glass ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Can I use idioms in my personal statement?

I was wondering if I can use expressions such as "I was flooded with ideas", "It would get me closer towards my desired career" or "it worked like a charm" in my personal statement as it is considered ...
2
votes
3answers
125 views

How to transmit feelings in a technical book writing?

For example, in Skype conversations you use emoticons. I might use (headbang) after a phrase to express frustration, or I can have a (facepalm) moment, or I can write a joke and add (rofl), etc. But ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

Thesis writing: how to address “self”

This came up when I was writing my thesis: Usually it is recommended that when writing a thesis, one sticks to passive voice and use sentences that read like "The study showed the effect that blah ...
2
votes
4answers
183 views

Is it the right call to title my romance a 'legend'?

I am writing a book and I plan to call it "Legend of (name of the protagonist)". But I'm writing in first person (protagonist). Searching the meaning of the word "legend" in google I get: "a ...