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44 votes
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How do I go from 300 unfinished/half written blog posts, to published posts?

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 ...
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43 votes

Not wanting to "spoil" a story due to lack of skill

Write it. It may be as bad as you anticipate, but you can revise it. In fact, many writers do advise revision. Just not to the exclusion of doing new stuff. (And different stories.)
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  • 6,604
33 votes
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Act 3 totally broken...keep writing?

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 ...
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33 votes
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Why do professional authors make "consistency" mistakes? And how to avoid them?

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, ...
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31 votes

Are there advantages in writing by hand over typing out a story?

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 ...
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  • 10k
30 votes
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Is genre ever relevant to the writing process?

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. ...
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29 votes
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What are the signs of accidental self insertion?

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 ...
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26 votes

Is it a good idea to make the actions of my antagonist reasonable?

This is a great idea, but keep one important thing in mind. First of all, there's absolutely nothing wrong with making an antagonist sympathetic, reasonable and likable. If anything, it's good writing!...
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  • 8,672
25 votes

Writing a novel, can I do [this or that]?

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, ...
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  • 28k
23 votes
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How to survive editing

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 ...
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  • 25.2k
23 votes

Rules about breaking the rules. How do I do it well?

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 ...
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  • 93.2k
23 votes

Are there advantages in writing by hand over typing out a story?

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, ...
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21 votes

How do I go from 300 unfinished/half written blog posts, to published posts?

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 ...
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21 votes

Not wanting to "spoil" a story due to lack of skill

Tolkien wrote the first drafts of what would become the Silmarillion during the first world war. He tinkered with it most of his life, writing and rewriting whole swathes of stuff. Writing something ...
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  • 419
20 votes
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How can I make my 'first draft' good enough to be published?

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 ...
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  • 93.2k
19 votes
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Not wanting to "spoil" a story due to lack of skill

Who told you it's bad to rewrite a story? That's terrible advice. No one ever publishes something without a ton of rewrites, and many well-known writers revisit similar themes over and over. It took ...
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18 votes

Injecting creativity into a cookbook

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 ...
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  • 93.2k
14 votes
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Should I write scared?

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 ...
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14 votes

Dealing with inability to sustain interest in an idea

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 ...
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  • 23.7k
14 votes

How can I write a panicked scene without it feeling like it was written in haste?

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,...
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13 votes

How can I make my 'first draft' good enough to be published?

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 ...
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  • 547
13 votes

How to survive editing

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 ...
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  • 5,441
13 votes
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Rules about breaking the rules. How do I do it well?

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 ...
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12 votes

How long should it take to Revise/Edit to get to Good Enough?

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 ...
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  • 10.7k
12 votes

What techniques do you use to maintain your writing focus and maximise your productivity?

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’...
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  • 9,883
12 votes
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Overcoming "Possibility Paralysis"?

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 ...
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  • 10.7k

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