Craig Sefton
  • Member for 10 years, 10 months
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Help! I've got Writer's Block
53 votes

The key point with writing is that writing should be a habit. I would go so far as to say that what you write (initially) is probably not as important as the fact that you write. Many authors have ...

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What pronoun should a hermaphrodite species use?
30 votes

You have a number of options: If the narrator of the book is a human, it would be entirely acceptable to use "he" or "she" (no point in switching between them) throughout the book as standard, with ...

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

I have been taught to always leave the first line of a chapter/section unindented, then make all subsequent paragraphs indented. I have also seen all paragraphs indented. I came across a good ...

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How many words/hour should you aim for when writing your first draft?
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21 votes

Slow and steady wins the race. Cliché's out the way (although I do think it's true), one of the things I find with writing is that you should always stick to what you're comfortable with, unless you'...

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Do Fantasy novels have less readership than a Realistic Fiction novel?
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17 votes

I'm assuming that when you say "realistic fiction", what you really mean is "non-fantasy fiction". Then the answer is, of course fantasy has less of a readership than "realistic" fiction, because you'...

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What does Character development actually mean?
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17 votes

Character development can refer to either the task of sitting down and creating a character (working out their appearance, history, mannerisms, and so on), or it can refer to the change a character ...

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Can a book be written without an antagonist?
17 votes

Yes, a book can work without an antagonist. For example, in "end of the world" disasters, the source of friction often comes from the disaster, and not an antagonist. (To use an example, while not a ...

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How do you make a story succeed in spite of an unsympathetic main character?
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16 votes

Some great answers, but I disagree in some regards: interesting and compelling and understanding are not enough for someone to carry on reading about a main character. I can find a serial killer ...

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What are widely-used UK-English style guides?
15 votes

As far as UK style guides go, what you're probably looking for is the Oxford Guide to Style, formerly known as Hart's Rules (that link also contains a useful section outlining what the nearest US ...

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Is a novel less credible if the dialogues are too perfect?
15 votes

I find this question strange. If the dialogue is the perfect thing for the character - in other words, if that character was a living, breathing person, and this is 100% exactly what they would say - ...

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How can I create my own deadline?
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14 votes

I suffer from this all the time. My wife says I always write better to a deadline, but I struggle to figure out how to set deadlines and stick them. Some ideas I've been thinking about: Get someone ...

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Should a conlang be translated?
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13 votes

If you're writing for an English audience, your readers are expecting an English novel. From a reader perspective, it is utterly tedious to read a lot of dialogue you cannot understand. Providing ...

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How to cite an entire paragraph?
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12 votes

When citing large blocks of text like a paragraph, you're probably better off indenting the paragraph, and introducing the text. For example: As How to Indent notes (Billy Bob, 2011): It's better ...

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Are contractions antithetical to academic writing?
12 votes

Contractions are, by their very nature, informal, as they tend to be more frequently used for speech than writing. However, you don't necessarily always have to avoid them: although the APA Style ...

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Is it plausible to get a contract with an US/UK publisher as a foreigner?
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12 votes

I am not a publisher, so perhaps someone will correct me, but if your book is good, they'll publish it. I can't for the life of me see any good reason why not. On the subject of distrust, the content ...

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Explicitly correcting yourself while writing - how appropriate is it ?
12 votes

I think, in the right context, it's perfectly acceptable. If you have a character telling the story, then the conversational style you refer to would probably be fine if it suits the character. It's ...

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Is it possible that my short novel will be boring to my readers because it only has two characters and the location doesn't change?
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12 votes

Use as many characters you need. Don't add extra characters unless they relate to the story. The Old Man and the Sea only had two characters (three if you include the marlin). However, remember that ...

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How do I balance work with my love of writing?
11 votes

Firstly, you need to make a living so you can eat, pay the bills, and support yourself. If you like the job, and enjoy programming, take the job. Being able to support yourself from just your writing ...

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Is it fine to use link shorteners for research paper citations?
11 votes

The issue here is that you are referencing a written piece of work, and the URL is likely to be integral to that reference. While the shortened URL does direct you to the location of the work you are ...

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Is an overview clearer when outlined with bullet points, or when written in paragraphs?
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11 votes

The only study on bullet points I could find was done by Chris Atherton looking at the usage of bullet points in Power Point slides, and this concluded that they did not work when it came to the ...

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Is Sherlock Holmes public domain for use in a story?
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10 votes

Up front, I must say "I am not a lawyer." Heed the advice given above and consult a lawyer specializing in copyright law. That said, it seems clear to me right now that publishing in the UK should be ...

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Tips for adding more personality to characters?
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10 votes

Characters tend to be boring if they're just normal, or mundane. To generalise, people want to read about characters that are slightly larger than life. I don't mean they should be eccentric, but they'...

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Do we need a gap of time between drafts?
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10 votes

I would say yes, you should leave a gap between the first draft and redraft, with the qualifier that you should do what you find works for yourself. The reason many authors such as Stephen King ...

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How do I avoid legal repercussions for writing a story based on events in my life?
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10 votes

Before I give some suggestions, the best advice I can give you is speak to a lawyer directly about your personal situation. Unless there is one on the forum, I really wouldn't take any other advice as ...

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When can I kill my character?
9 votes

Lauren Ipsum's point is spot on, but I'd like to elaborate further. Does killing them off or keeping them alive bring better conflict for the story, and deliver a better story arc for other characters ...

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Is it good style to use Latin phrases in English scientific literature?
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9 votes

Use Latin when it makes sense to use Latin, not because you want to impress, which could turn your piece into an illegible mess. Perhaps there's a specific scientific or legal phrase in Latin that you ...

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How do you reference pop culture in a dialogue without proper attribution?
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9 votes

I'd do it exactly as you've demonstrated, informal without inline attribution. You can then make mention of it in some form of bibliography at the end if you wish, but remember that commonly known ...

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2nd Draft- Fix spelling/grammar or plot first?
9 votes

My advice would be to sit down after a month and read through your draft with a pen or pencil (or, if it's digital in Word format or something similar, use the note-tracking facilities available to ...

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Example of a fictional story without any characters (the story being 1000+ words)
9 votes

Unfortunately, I can't think of any stories that follow your strict requirement on excluding anything that "is able to reproduce". The closest I could come is Ray Bradbury's short story, "There Will ...

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Do writers copy other writers?
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8 votes

Well, first of all, Picasso never said it. Please see, for example, this investigation which could find no evidence to suggest Picasso ever said this. In fact, the earliest quote that could be found ...

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