Hot answers tagged

43

I might be able to help; I spent my whole young life moving from project to project without finishing anything. Now I am a casually famous horror author whose work is unusually popular on YouTube, and my second book was optioned for a film. 1. Keep a notebook with you I keep a large, college-ruled notebook in my backpack with me at all times. That backpack ...


34

Fix it now. If you realize you made a mistake, go back and fix it now. Not, I stress, because the last 20K would be "wasted," because no writing is wasted, but because it's clearly blocking you and you don't want to write it. Carve off whatever pieces aren't going to fit and put them in a slush file. I like this method because it feels less painful than ...


33

Lack of proofreading has been the bane of writing in many locations over the last few years. Do you remember back when newspapers came to your house and you paid to subscribe? Okay, maybe you don't, due to age or location, but it was a thing. Most people (at least among the college-educated folks I knew) subscribed to the daily local paper which was ...


31

Please note that I used to hand write everything and only type up what I felt was worthwhile later, largely due to a rather slow typing speed. Now I tend to do one or the other, typing some projects and hand writing others depending on end use (material purely for my own reference usually being hand written and material that may later be shared being typed). ...


30

I can think of three specific cases where genre conventions can be an important part of the writing process: You are writing a formulaic book, where the familiarity of it is the core of the appeal. It might not be a book that you or I might want to read or write, but well-written formulaic books have a stable core audience that craves the specific, ...


28

Neither being powerful, nor reflecting the author is an insurmountable problem for a character. What you want to avoid is a character who faces no significant problems on her path to success, whose character flaws are all overlooked, and who is unjustifiably treated as intrinsically lovable. Self-insertion isn't the problem, it's the explanation. If it was ...


25

GLENDOWER I can call spirits from the vasty deep. HOTSPUR Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them? -- Henry IV, part 1 | Act 3, Scene 1 In other words, "Can I do ..." is always the wrong question. "Will anyone want to read ..." is the right question. And if you can't think of a dozen widely read books where ...


24

If you want to be a writer, you had better get used to reading and re-reading your own material. I just completed what I hope is the final edit on my latest book. I haven't been keeping score, but I have read the entire book through ... at least 5 times. And every time through I find problems I missed on previous reads. How to get the motivation? I don't ...


23

You almost certainly can. At very least, if this is a project that appeals to you, then you can try, and see how it goes. There have been stories and novels written in second-person future tense, written without the letter 'e', written in the form of a series of exercise and relaxation tapes, written from the viewpoint of a sentient pregnancy test. There is ...


23

I would say that in writing, in particular, we shouldn't break the simple rules of grammar and spelling and many other basics. My reason for that is quite simple, if you writer "gramer, speling, n simpel" most readers (and definitely most agents and publishers) are going to stop reading right there. If your intent is to sell books (as opposed to writing ...


22

One at a time. It isn't laziness. That's just a word people throw out when work doesn't get done and in many cases, including yours, it's meaningless. You've done a lot of work, you're just not finishing it. Set up a source of external pressure. I had a novel in my head for 10 years before I did anything about it. I did some research and wrote an ...


20

I remember what a huge deal it was when I graduated from elementary school (6th grade, age 12) and got my first typewriter as a gift. It was even an electric one! I already knew how to type because, when I was in 3rd grade, there had been an experimental program to see if teaching kids young how to touch type was worthwhile (I've retained all those skills ...


19

Stop writing and put it in a drawer. Go write something else for a while. There is no point in continuing when you know, as you clearly do, that this story is off the rails. It is not going to yield either usable prose or usable insight. At the same time it is clear that you have not yet had the positive a-ha moment that reveals what the true story ...


19

I'm a research scientist and professor at a university. We tolerate exactly this "rather curious approach" to research, of multiple refinements until we zero in on something interesting. We do experiment after experiment to find it. Do you realize how many different takes on the internal combustion engine were tried before Ford invented the engine block? ...


17

I recall "Two Meatballs In The Italian Kitchen", by Pino Luongo and Mark Straussman. It was two chefs with different styles of Italian restaurants that got together for a cookbook. The basic premise is they told a 1/4 to one page personal story or anecdote about a dish. Where they first had it, who taught it to them, a celebrity that eats it every time ...


14

Longform storytelling (which is what a novel or novella is) is very very difficult. It is also only tangentially related to writing. You can be good at writing and know nothing about longform storytelling. It is rather like the difference between painting a house and painting a mural. You need all the same understanding and skill with paints and brushes to ...


14

Music is a performance art, it takes place in "real time." Writing does not. So while there is an inevitable trade-off between spontaneity and polish for a musician, the same is not true for a writer, whose spontaneity is always an illusion. Your characters can be smarter and wittier than you, if you need them to be, because you can take hours to think of ...


14

The advice is simple. Nail your butt to the couch and type. It won't always be fun, and your first draft will be very bad. If your expectation is to finish a beautiful story painlessly with a blissful experience throughout ... :-) You see from experience why this isn't what happens. Also, each part of a story is different. Writing the beginning is ...


14

My bandaid may not fit your wound, but here it is all the same. When I'm editing, I break it down into sections to make it more palatable for me and my ADHD-having muse. First I work on the plot holes and place notes where needs to be beefed up, and where needs to be trimmed. Then I go in and start trimming the fat. Unneeded scenes marked on the previous ...


14

I've noticed something about many books and movies. Just as two characters are getting into a deep conversation, either sharing something important or showing emotion or leaning forward slowly to kiss, a random passerby will walk right between them. It totally throws them off and - you would think - breaks things up. But instead, it actually heightens the ...


13

Elaborating on what a great teacher (Portuguese literature) of mine once said: 1. Rules exist for a reason - understand why If you know why a rule exists, you know when you should follow it, when you should bend it and when you should break it altogether. By rules, she meant anything from punctuation and spelling to versification and figures of speech. ...


12

Building a car is a repeatable process. It happens on an assembly line and each step is the same. There are some small, intentional variations in the process to accommodate customization like paint color and optional components. But for the most part, the assembly line implements repeatable steps which produce the same output every time. There are entire ...


12

1. Find another writer who’s as anxious to increase productivity as you are. Note: I’ve only tried this with other writers, it may work with people in other fields, but it does have to be someone who’s as dedicated as you are. Someone who won’t be tempted to derail the process with chit-chat and interruptions. 2. Install an internet blocking application ...


12

Welcome to Possibility Paralysis Anonymous! My name is Henry and I suffer from having too many ideas... You are correct in identifying that this is more than a writing issue but perhaps a little too tough on yourself in calling it a personality flaw. ( ...and since integrity is of highest value, definitely too tough when you call it a character flaw. ) ...


12

Be concise, factual, polite, clear and sincere all at once I don't believe there is a single correct way to write a comment on this site. The help centre advice on comments tells us how and when to comment but not what to comment. Welcoming a new user I think informing new users of our standards is an important part of the Stack Exchange model. This is ...


12

I am a discovery writer; I don't usually look for a "theme", and my readers don't seem to miss it. There can be a problem with a story seeming to stall, and I don't know that there is an easy fix in identifying WHY it stalled. As I have written in previous responses; I have minimized the occurrence of this by keeping the end-point of the story fixed in my ...


11

This is about personal organisation - actually nothing to do with writing per se, but it does, I understand, affect writing significantly. I would suggest that you identify the urgency of your various projects, or - if you have no deadlines - the closeness to completion. Then work on the most urgent or nearest complete. Work on it until you have completed ...


11

Writer opinions on the importance of the revision process vary dramatically. Professionally trained journalists tend to "try to get it right during the first draft" by following rules which organize each scene's (story) points in descending order of importance. More organic writers tend embrace revision as part of the creation process, finishing a first ...


11

You should write inspired. You should write in response to vision. Great work is work of great vision, work that sees what we ordinarily miss about human life. Tackling your vision may or may not be scary, but that is beside the point. If you have looked into the abyss, your vision may have terrified you and writing it down may be to relive that terror (...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible