I'm stuck on part of a short story I'm writing. My main character is at a silent Vipassana retreat, but I'm not comfortable having so much of the action be internal. Aside from natural disasters and the like, what are some weird/dramatic things that could happen there that are realistic?
I'm looking for examples of a particular kind of narrative writing style that might be (or overlap with) what I think is sometimes called deep-point-of-view. [more inside]
[FictionFilter] In the era of doxxing and all that, is it possible for a tech person with a high-profile position to keep his personal info -- and real name and identity -- under wraps? [more inside]
I am interested in books that manage to combine a successful plot-driven approach (particularly thrillers or other airport-style reading, like Crichton or Dan Brown) with humor, either in the form of characters, dialogue, or narration. When has it been done successfully? When has it been attempted unsuccessfully? Are they like oil and water, and if so, why? [more inside]
My daughter is turning 11 next year and I am writing her a Harry Potter inspired story (fanfic) of her very own. She is the star character in a story about her first year at Hogwarts. Can you help me name some of other characters? [more inside]
Are there any literary writers (i.e. not sportswriters) who've written about modern NFL football in the same way that Joyce Carol Oates has written about boxing / David Foster Wallace has written about tennis?
When I think of Wilde's or Dickens' prose, I think of classical rhetorical techniques such as paraprosdokian and chiasmus--and of course countless others. I'm looking for sources that analyze prose fiction--modern or canonical--according to models of classical rhetoric. Internet sources would be excellent, but I might spring for a hard-copy text if it's not too expensive. Thanks.
I'm writing a dystopian sci fi novel and it's coming along sparkingly. Yay. One of the plot lines involves a shortage of women, and the development of new family units utilising polyandry. I'm looking for resources - primarily non-fiction - of both positive and negative experiences of polyandry. [more inside]
I am a 32 y/o creative writer (poetry, short fiction, essays) and arts journalist. I have an MFA and I have been very well-published in lit mags and on websites (but no book yet). I have two poetry manuscripts that I’ve circulated, and both have had some near-misses. I am very prolific and always have projects going, and I submit often. However, I feel a lack of professional traction, and I am hoping some of you have ways I can level up. [more inside]
Further to the success of a previous Ask Me, in which I was given a great idea for a fictional story I am writing, I am back with another question. I would like to know what people, places, events and objects you associate with fairy tales, folklore, myths etc. [more inside]
What are some good novels that have a high-concept speculative element in the background, but aren't quite about that? [more inside]
I'd like to find some software to organize and tie together less-important details in my story. Probably I want a personal wiki--but which one? I'm open to wiki alternatives also. [more inside]
I'm looking for essays, books, poetry, nonfiction, or whatever else about normal people's everyday lives and pasts, humorous if possible. I'm looking for stuff in the vein of the New York Press's old columns (like the ones Ned Vizzini wrote) or like Books of Adam. Writing that is casual, but well written.
I am about 15,000 words into my first novel, and I'm finding it difficult to get feedback from my old English major friends. I'd like to know how the pace, grammar, syntax, etc. of my story strike various experienced readers, but I certainly don't want to put my manuscript online in an unsecured environment. Any thoughts? BTW, I live in the Maine woods; no, there are no local meet-ups. I really wish there were.
Authors Of AskMe, has this happened to you? During my self-imposed creative hiatus over the last year or so I conducted a lot of research into what would be my dream project. A project I could be passionate about, the kind of book I'd really want to exist. So I made a list of every thing, character, concept, idea, sudden kind of twist I'd like. I have three notebooks of this stuff. I cross-indexed it and included all my references. I have an astounding about of detail on what I want to put in and touch on but no actual story. I keep staring at it, like it's a list of SCP entries, and I can't think of a damn thing for anyone to do with these collected items, places, motifs, themes, and people. It's frustrating cause I can come up with quick pulp narratives on the fly for stuff I'm not working as hard on but every attempt to break and outline a rising action for these people results in rapid breathing and complete brain fume-lock. I keep asking "What does the main character want?" and coming up with nothing. Is this common? Is there a resource for this? Can I pay someone to go through these ideas and find something that other people might want to read? [more inside]
I am writing a short story in which an unmanned spaceship crashes in a field, and I've gotten stuck when it comes to visualizing/describing the spaceship. I like the idea of a steampunk craft, though it will have lights. In case you are wondering, the overall tone I am going for is magic with a hint of sadness. Got any ideas for what it looks like on the outside or inside? What might my characters find when they explore?
I'm fascinated by writing systems. I've seen this wiki page about different types of systems in real and fictional languages. As I understand it, there are generally three kinds of systems: logographic, where symbols represent entire concepts or words; syllabaries, where symbols represent syllabic sounds; and segmental, where symbols represent phonemes or small units of sound. Is there any other way to write? I'm having a hard time coming up with how it would even work, but I'm sure some clever author somewhere has tried. Is there another way to write a language other than the above?
I really love works of fiction that use the style, setup, or form of another media product as a means of storytelling and sometimes subversion. For example: TEDxSummerisle (complete with tweets and botched livestream) and The Theory of Narrative Causality, written primarily in the form of Livejournal posts by the Sherlock Homes fandom (inc comments and bits of fanfic) as well as GChats, TVTropes, and related media. What other similar works are out there? [more inside]
I was reading a review of Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 and a reviewer said the following: The author inserts John Dos Passos-like lists here and there in the text. Not quite sure that works, however (These lists are distorted and truncated in the Kindle edition). What do these lists look like? [more inside]
Is it possible for a layperson to differentiate an MFA trained author from one who isn't?
Tell me the story of how you managed to keep your novel organized! [more inside]
I'm teaching a workshop on in media res (starting a story at the height of the action and then revealing backstory later) this weekend, and I'm looking for a short story (fairly short, short enough that students could read it in under 5-10 minutes) that illustrates in media res well. After the students read the story, I'm going to ask them to write an in media res story of their own. Does anyone know of any good short stories that would resonate with 13-16-year-olds? Thank you!
Are there any speculative fiction writing workshops in the Midwest? [more inside]
I want to know about that favorite short story writer of yours that no one else has ever heard of. [more inside]
How do you go about consciously aping the voice/tone/style of a particular genre of fiction or writer? [more inside]
Please name some Paranormal Young Adult fiction tropes and cliches (obvious or obscure) so I can avoid doing them myself in the book I am writing. Thanks! [more inside]
I'm working on a new book and I need to name a genome. I can't handwave it-- while the book is SF, I don't want people in the know to be able to look at it like people look at Law & Order address (ie, nobody from New York would ever think that's a real address. Nobody in science would ever think that's a real genome.) [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]
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]
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 trying to learn more about contemporary Indonesia, and I'd love book & essay recommendations, especially of narrative non-fiction with a strong first person narrative voice! (But I'd also love suggestions of fiction, good travelogues, podcasts, blogs, zines, films, academic articles--really anything that doesn't demand prior in depth knowledge.) [more inside]
I've been writing short fiction. I've got my process down pretty well, to the point that I am not getting stuck in writer's block hell or any other common pitfalls. I have ideas, and I'm capable of getting them down on paper. I revise them, I produce new drafts, etc. My problem comes in the last phase of the process. I don't know when to say something is done. [more inside]
Are there other simple-to-express checks like the Bechdel Test for measuring gender bias and feminism in fiction? I try hard to make sure I'm being a decent feminist as a writer -- I'm a guy, I tend to write with male protagonists but with a lot of female characters involved, and I worry about my blind spots. [more inside]
I'm submitting a story to a fiction contest, attaching it to an email. Other than the contest guidelines, is there anything else I need to do to the document or be aware of?
What elements are needed to write a frighteningly plausible post-apocalyptic story? [more inside]
Writing fiction: is it the sort of thing where you either have "the gift," or you don't? [more inside]
As a reader of fiction (especially if you're a devotee of speculative fiction), how much do you like detailed descriptions and/or lists as part of the story? What if the story switches between detail and expediency? [more inside]
I've been asked to put together a longish reading list for a BA Art/Literature module, and I'd love some ideas for texts outside my current knowledge. The list should cover a series of genres and contexts, with writing from, and about, the history and theory of art, journalism, academia, design, architecture and film. Writing on design and architecture are particularly outside my knowledge. What innovative and critically significant writings can you recommend across any of these subject areas? [more inside]
A world with binary suns and multiple satellites that can still be livable by a diverse (even lush) assortment of life forms - true or not? [more inside]
Books / resources about monastic life? I am thinking of writing a story set in a completely fictional setting, and I'd like to research more ideas of what life is like in a monastery or abbey. [more inside]
As a reader, how do you feel about invented language versus familiar words in imaginary worlds? [more inside]
You don't need permission to dress up as a copyrighted character, but do you need permission to write about it?
My novel involves a costume party with some guests dressed as recognizable characters from films, TV, etc. I'm clearly not trying to claim them as my own and it's just all Halloween costumes, but am I asking to get sued? [more inside]
What are the realistic odds of a movie studio buying rights to fiction? What steps could one take to even attempt this? [more inside]
After enjoying a 1920 screenwriting book by the flapper humorist Anita Loos, I am wondering what other pre-WW2 writing advice books might be fun and interesting to read. Any suggestions?
Help me find this bookfilter: An writer's guide 'interview' with your own fiction character to help uncover their traits and depths. Or, a similar list of interview questions to learn a lot about someone in a short time. [more inside]
Open courses that teach writing skills: where are they? [more inside]
What are the best ending lines of poems/short stories/novels/movies? [more inside]
I would like to experiment with writing historical fiction. Are there any resources that describe best practices for this genre? Do you have any experience/recommendations/advice? [more inside]
I need to know what sort of equipment one uses to "entangle" particles. Where would I find this sort of information? [more inside]