What does it feel like to walk across a thick carpet of cooled ash, like after a forest fire or a house fire? I'm writing a book and I didn't think about the sensation until right now, and I'm quite clueless. Thank you!
I'm looking for high-quality, moving, compelling, interesting writing about having ADD; i.e. personal essays, creative nonfiction, that sort of thing. [more inside]
I'm in a creative portion of the software development field (advertising), and I often am asked to help write technical documents like case studies, final documentation to the client or simply find myself needing to explain technical ideas to a client. How can I improve my writing skills? I'm looking for general tips or rules, as well as examples of engaging technical writing that doesn't read like a Github Wiki page. [more inside]
Writers: how do you go about creating new characters? I've tried in the past, but they usually end up a combination of tired cliches and quotes from old movies. They never feel real. If I don't have a natural talent for doing this, how do I get better at it?
Surely there are some more sophisticated programmers' tools for storing and comparing multiple drafts, or versions, of a written document. Might we use those tools, to study written work, or to keep track of versions both linear and non-linear? Authors, editors, literary scholars, archivists: all eventually have to do work with multiple versions of a text. Can the existing tools be made more readily available to them? [more inside]
Can anyone help me identify the original source of this Gore Vidal quote? "Write what you know’ will always be excellent advice for those who ought not to write at all. Write what you think, what you imagine, what you suspect. That is the only way out of the dead end of the Serious Novel which so many ambitious people want to write and no one on earth wants to read." Have been Googling for a while without any luck.
I'm new to the world of freelance writing but not making enough to hire a tax advisor. Should I start paying taxes in September? And how can I write off the depreciation of my laptop? [more inside]
Looking for a short story, in which an elevator figured prominently, used to demonstrate literary irony in a gifted-talented/advanced placement middle school class. [more inside]
Specific story-writing method published by a '20s/'30s crime writer? [more inside]
Are there paid jobs I could get that are non-demanding enough that they would give me long hours of free time to work on my own creative projects? [more inside]
What are your favourite examples of building tension or suspense in literature? Ideally these are brief moments, single paragraphs or small scenes, compelling the reader to continue on, worried about what will follow. [more inside]
What are the best online writer's groups or workshops, especially for genre (scifi/fantasy) fiction? Active community of geeks wanted. Help a writer get serious about her stories. [more inside]
I want my students to learn something from reading a "model essay." But how do I do this? [more inside]
I am in the middle of a long, demanding professional school admissions process. Essays are required. But I am so demoralized about my life situation that I am finding it very hard to have the proper upbeat tone. Experienced writers and editors--hell, experienced salesmen--what are some exercises I can do to get into the proper headspace? The more concrete, the better, like "start every writing session with ten bullet points about your accomplishments," or similar. [more inside]
What are the most useful writing tips and/or resources (books and the like) that you have come across as an adult? New teacher of a course in professional writing wants to know. [more inside]
Is it possible to find an expert in creative writing in the Boston area or online to help me improve my short story? Several knowledgeable readers pointed out specific flaws in it that I have no idea how to fix. [more inside]
What $20 item will help me remember that I can make better use of my time than playing video games? Exciting snowflakes inside! [more inside]
Is there an external professional/creative communication undergraduate program with no class interaction at any Australian university? [more inside]
I want to go about finding entertaining, engaging, intelligent things I can read about subjects I know nothing about. Ideally, I want a source of these things which will reliably send me off in directions I'm completely unfamiliar with, rather than just new sources which cover individual specific subjects. But it has to be enjoyable, even somewhat mindless reading – think Cracked or Buzzfeed. Does anything like this exist? Are there good places online for me to stimulate myself when I'm in that mindless time-killing mood?
Where do you go to read about written science fiction? Not a recommendation engine like GoodReads (or god help me Amazon), but somewhere that talks about new books coming out, old books you may have missed, reviews, previews, release dates, etc? And if they want to throw in some actual science, all the better. [more inside]
I'm writing a TED conference parody, and I'm hungry for some good behind-the-scenes info. I can't find much of anything. Which makes me hungrier. Do you know of any good blog posts, essays, articles out there? For people who have attended or have some inside info, would you mind dropping some info here about what it was like? Particularly, unusual or annoying things. [more inside]
This one might be a doozy. So, I'm a 23 year old recent college grad ( this May) with a B.A. in psychology and no idea what to do with my life. ( Original, I know, but bear with me, it gets better.) Everyone around me seems to have what are at least well-outlined 5 year plans, oriented around either grad school or a great entry level job. Certain circumstances in my life though seem to leave me with a vision of the future that doesn't extend far beyond the living room couch and daytime TV for the next 10 years and that frightens me to no end. [more inside]
I love the idea of doing everything electronically - easy backups, filing, being able to search, etc. Problem is, I much prefer the tactile experience of writing on paper. I have this delusion that I'm not able to be my "full creative self", whatever that means, unless it's with pen/pencil. I know that's just procrastination/laziness talking, but I am curious: did you struggle with this? Did you find something that made the typing process as enjoyable as writing, or did you just train yourself out of wanting to physically write? [more inside]
So, I'm starting tentatively to plunk out the first few pages of what I imagine will become a first draft of a first novel. It's aimed somewhere in the range of a very-near future, with some decidedly speculative features and technologies. No spaceships, no aliens, no dragons, no ray guns. I'd like it to be something like the novels of William Gibson and Gary Shteyngart, though I don't presume to compare the quality of what I'm working on to their works, which I truly admire. Both of those guys have published what are clearly SF novels, outside of genre SF. What are the advantages and disadvantages of attempting that, rather than selling to the SF publishing houses?
My bulldog is swimming in my swimming pool. [more inside]
Medium, a 'thingy' on the web, which is apparently in beta, has just sent me an invitation to come and write. Its been difficult searching for reviews or information about them due to their name. I've been recently burnt by Posterous' closure with the sudden demise of a popular* group blog I'd initiated. I would appreciate your thoughts on this medium (heh), whether I should consider writing there, particularly wrt its longevity or survival, and any other insights on its target audience, reputation and/or credibility, before investing time, effort and original content once more. [more inside]
Who wrote something like "all great writing is travel writing and Mary Shelley was the best travel writer"? I think I read this on the Internet in the last 10 years, written by a currently living book reviewer. I'd like to read the article again. It was an article about the importance of travel writing.
A number of sources suggest that writers write for x number of minutes a day. I wrote for 30min/day for 2 months, but stopped because I could not determine a benefit. In addition, I was (and remain) totally unclear on what one is supposed to do with the writing afterward: read it (if yes, soon after writing, or later)? Edit it (if yes, again, soon after writing, or later)? And for what purposes? I hope some established writers can direct me in the proper use of this tool, or debunk it in favor of another method. If it helps, I am writing creative non-fiction, travel narrative, etc.
I've been writing satirical news articles for a website I created, and while my articles have been popular so far, I realized that I've been writing solely on my instinct of how a newspaper article would sound. What are some resources that go more in-depth on the style of newspaper articles, rather than the news gathering/reporting side of journalism?
I want to start writing freelance. Not necessarily full-time, but I want to try it. [more inside]
The psychological testing I recently went through as part of my therapy suggests that my would-be career path may not be a great fit after all. Part of me wants to keep trying anyway. Is this a really terrible idea? If it is, how can I make a realistic new plan? [more inside]
[Novelists Filter] Name a few quick things (under 5 minutes) I can do to become a better writer. [more inside]
I'm looking for examples of analysis of why a particular passage of prose is excellent, or why it fails. [more inside]
When I type up a line or a short passage from a novel to post online, I often "clean it up" a little, and I'm wondering how much of this is OK. [more inside]
Hey AskMetafilter - calling on all writers for help. I write screenplays, and I think my greatest weakness is that I have trouble developing clear, consistent characters in my work. I seem to constantly make characters do things that don't fit their personalities - which creates a lot of confusion for my readers. I need help figuring out how to create well-defined characters who are consistent throughout the text. [more inside]
I gave my aunt a draft manuscript of my novel to read and in addition to catching typos and asking about character motivation, she wrote the above. I'm now halfway through the manuscript and I have removed THREE HUNDRED extraneous 'that's. Maybe 'that' is just my quirk (see what I did there?) but I wonder if you have similar tips. I'm not looking for grammar rules or broad writing suggests like 'use active voice,' just quick, concrete shortcuts to tighten up flabby writing. Another example, depressingly necessary in academia, is to replace every instance of "the way in which" with "how." Thoughts?
Can you recommend some good resources for writing outlines for short fiction? I have this book which focuses on novel writing, and I'd like a comparable resource for short stories, novellas, and other, shorter pieces. [more inside]
What I want is an older sister /grandmother/ auntie type - someone wise I can write letters to from time to time, who will write me thoughtful letters back and offer suggestions and whatnot. A life coach? A counsellor (or therapist)? Does anyone offer this service? I would happily pay a reasonable fee. [more inside]
I like putting words together, whether they're short stories or research and reports. What kind of job would allow me to do more of that? [more inside]
What exercises do you use in class to help undergraduates become better writers? [more inside]
Do I continue writing a book I've enjoyed writing and researching when it seems I've unintentionally given it the same premise as Castle? [more inside]
I remember reading a long time ago either a blog post or a wiki-looking page linked on the Blue. It was written either to defend American liberalism, show why libertarianism was flawed, or both. The piece was about a person outlining the ways in which society and the US government's "invisible infrastructure" (my term, not theirs), supported his or her everyday life in subtle but essential ways. They included government-built roads, fire departments, and public schools, among other things. What piece is this? Bonus points for finding wherever it was linked from on MeFi. I'd also appreciate links to other seminal short works of pro-liberal and/or anti-libertarian writing. ("Invisible Knapsack" and "If Men Had Periods" come to mind.)
I want to submit my short story to the kind of literary magazine that I'd actually enjoy reading. Do you have any suggestions? [more inside]
I'd like to replace the cupfulls of random stolen ballpoint pens in my house and at work with a smaller selection of nice pens, of the blue and red ink variety. I have an art store and the usual big box retail suspects nearby. What should I purchase? [more inside]
If a civilian in the US (who does not work for the gov't) learns top secret national security information through no active choice of her own (not snooping, stuff just happens in front of her or she is clearly dragged into the matter against her will), can the government legally compel her to keep said secret? [more inside]
I learned English as a second language (native is Finnish). The emphasis in school was on vocabulary and very basic grammar; we did not to my recollection deal with stuff like passive voice etc. So in terms of writing in English, much of my "voice" has developed simply from what sounds right inside my head. However, I've been told that the way I write is overly complicated. Is this so? [more inside]
I'm revising a young adult novel that includes legal & police (sub)plotlines and have some questions. [more inside]
This week, my daughter (a sophomore in high school) will be bidding adieu to her French teacher, who is is retiring. Daughter is artistic and has decided to make a card for Madame but is looking for inspiration. [more inside]
Writers, and novelists or fiction writers in particular, can you share your goals, processes and timelines for each of your drafts? [more inside]
I'm looking for websites that post longer pieces (3000 words+) on topics like science, culture, personal essay (not so much regular long-form journalism). These could be magazines like seed or nautil.us or online only. Recommendations?