Dale Hartley Emery
  • Member for 11 years, 2 months
  • Last seen more than 2 years ago
What's the modern way to handle gender in tech writing?
Accepted answer
79 votes

A few additional options: Introduce a named person (perhaps fictional), and use that person's name. "Terry wants to create an account. She chooses a password and types it into the text box. No, wait, ...

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Avoiding the "as you know" trope in exposition
35 votes

Two additional techniques... Character Reaction. A character might react in a way that reveals some of the information: "Mother! What the heck are you doing here?" Now we know that the person who ...

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How does one write a character smarter than oneself?
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35 votes

You have several advantages over your characters: You get all the time you need to conduct research. You have time to think about each thing they will do or say. You get to think through the ...

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Is it smart to reserve one's best ideas or to utilise them early in their writing career?
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34 votes

Use your best ideas. Write them as well as you can. Yes, your writing will improve with experience. And your ideas will also improve with experience. If you reserve your "best ideas" until you're a ...

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Feedback: What to use and what to ignore?
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24 votes

Feedback is an enormously complex topic, for everyone, everywhere, in every role in life. Some people understand that it's complex. Others do not. Avoid feedback from people who think feedback is ...

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How to avoid repetitive sentence structure?
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24 votes

Even though you notice the problem in the first words (in the subjects of the sentences), I think the problem is elsewhere: Each of the first five sentences has a verb that reminds that we're in ...

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Writing Multiple Novels Simultaneously
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21 votes

My advice: Try it and see if it works out. Things to watch out for: Reasons for switching projects. What leads you to switch from one project to another? Are you stuck? Bored? Something else? If ...

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How should a writer use version control to track drafts, rewrites, and revisions?
Accepted answer
21 votes

There are two concepts in git that can help: branches and tags. Tags. Think of a tag as a name for a specific revision. Any time you want to remember a version, create a tag for it. For example, ...

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How do you convince your publisher that your story is good?
21 votes

If the publisher does not want to publish your story, then at least one of these is true: The goodness isn't in the text. The text is good, and the publisher doesn't recognize it. The publisher's ...

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Is there enough money in writing for me to quit my dead end job?
20 votes

Writing is mostly a long-term profession. For most professional writers, writing is a long-term prospect. You are unlikely to make much money from one book, or five. Of course, unlikely is not the ...

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Getting emotional while writing, good or bad?
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20 votes

Write. Let the emotion flow. If the emotion clutters the writing, or takes it in a direction you don't want, you can fix it later, when you can look at it with a cooler view. But even if you choose ...

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Is there a way to know who bought my books on Amazon?
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19 votes

There is no way to track who buys your books on Amazon. In your books, give readers a way to connect with you. Links to your book/author/publisher web site. Link to a mailing list. Links to your ...

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How to handle foreign military ranks?
Accepted answer
19 votes

Don't explain, demonstrate. You can show the meaning of a rank by what people of that rank typically do, and by the way characters of different ranks react to each other. If an Oberst berates a ...

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Is it a bad idea to publish individual chapters of my book idea online for feedback?
18 votes

I think posting a work in progress online for feedback is enormously dangerous. Not because people will steal it. They almost certainly won't. Not because those readers will refrain from buying the ...

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Software for developing and organizing characters
18 votes

Custom Meta-Data in Scrivener. You can do some custom fields in Scrivener. See the "Custom Meta-Data" button at the bottom of the inspector (it looks like a little tag). Here's a photo where I added ...

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At what point does a POV character noting their surroundings go from showing/telling to an infodump?
17 votes

Focus on the character's reactions in that moment, given his intention and state of mind as he enters that environment. Different characters would likely attend to different details, and would react ...

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Alternatives to "he said" in dialogue
17 votes

In some paragraphs, have the speaker do things in addition to speaking. Readers will understand that it's the same person acting as speaking. Bob knocked on door. "I found an important clue." ...

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How to refer to character of focus in a story
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17 votes

Here's a technique that can help: Identify each instance of he saw or he heard or he thought. If you're writing a close third person POV, you can often eliminate those by simply saying what he saw or ...

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Citing Myself As a Source
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15 votes

You cite a source because it gives additional information that a curious reader may want to follow up on. So: If your prior paper gives additional information (data, methods, background, conclusions, ...

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What's a good way to backup your writing?
Accepted answer
15 votes

USB drives are notoriously unreliable. To use only USB drives for backups is enormously risky. Dropbox is great... for synchronizing files. I use Dropbox to synchronize files between my two computers,...

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Is it bad storytelling to have things happen by complete chance?
14 votes

Most of the time, it's important that the outcome — good or bad — follow from the main character's actions. If the outcome is determined by chance or randomness or ...

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If I get a free ISBN through Amazon's CreateSpace now, will that impact any decisions about getting my own ISBN later?
Accepted answer
14 votes

CreateSpace ISBNs are real, legitimate ISBNs. You can use them to distribute your book anywhere in the world. The key limitation is this: If your book has a CreateSpace ISBN, you must buy your copies ...

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avoiding making all your characters sound the same
14 votes

In addition to Lauren's list, here are a few things I do: Give each character a distinct background. Some possible elements to vary are geography, culture, ethnicity, education, age, friends, family....

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How Do you Stave Off Boredom While Writing?
Accepted answer
14 votes

Some possibilities: Start to write before you've told the story in your head a million times, and perhaps even before you've told it once. Begin writing the story before you know what happens. Begin ...

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Should mystery stories have resolutions?
13 votes

Mystery readers strongly expect the mystery to be resolved. If the mystery isn't the focus of the story, you can avoid rousing (and dashing) mystery readers' expectations of resolution by marketing ...

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Is CreateSpace 100% free for self-publishing?
13 votes

I have sent eight books through CreateSpace this year, including one that I'm proofing right now. The only upfront cost is the printed proof copy, and you can forego that (though it is highly ...

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Meretricious - A bit too fancy?
Accepted answer
13 votes

It depends who will use the word. If it's one character talking or thinking about another, it's a great word, and will help to characterize both characters in one swell foop. It will also trigger many ...

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Finding the 'voice' of a character
Accepted answer
13 votes

I do it by interviewing my characters. The main idea is to probe and challenge the character, then follow the character's energy. Ask a question that invites the character to tell me something new ...

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How much time should you devote to learning the craft?
12 votes

Spend 100 percent of your time learning the craft. Spend at least half of that learning by writing. (If this sounds overly pithy to you, please understand that my pithiness is an attempt to break ...

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Fiction writing: is using Git overkill?
12 votes

I use git for fiction. Sometimes I'll save versions at various milestones, such as when I finish a chapter). But more often I forget, and save a version only when I finish a draft. Some other times ...

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