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?
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 was convinced to start a blog under my real name, for the purposes of being visible on the internet in a positive light while applying for jobs. Unfortunately, now it's up, I hate it and never want to write anything there. Since my partner is sick of me wailing about it, I thought I'd ask you guys for tips on low-effort ways to post on a blog with a general theme of 'interesting science news'. [more inside]
I'm heading for a career change, and want to get better at my two passions: creative writing (creative non-fiction) and photography. I'm looking for a grad program that helps me integrate both so I can tell both my own stories and other people's (NGOs, Foundations, etc) more persuasively. [more inside]
I may have jumped the gun a bit in promising a friend that they could attend a writing workshop group we are starting. How should I navigate the resulting trickiness without marring any relationships? [more inside]
I need help coming up with a titular character of my book, someone who is sympathetic and sounds like a reasonable person to ask for advice. [more inside]
I went on a long, long break form my creative career cause I was feeling burnt out due to some failures and now I can't seem to get back into it, possibly because I no longer have a financial incentive to do so. How can I fix this? Warning: Long, super privileged person problems. [more inside]
I'm seeing a trend emerge, but I can't quite put my finger on how to identify it. Does it already have a name? If not, help me come up with one (for an article I'm writing). The article's jumping off point is RapGenius's foray into annotating everything not just lyrics, the NYTimes' Quips tool, Medium.com's paragraph-level commenting/annotation system, and Findings.com. [more inside]
I have inherited my grandmother's writings. I'm scanning them, doing OCR and in some cases retyping them so that I can have them digitized. I'd like to know, is there a format for text that is best for archival purposes? I was thinking of .rtf, since so many applications can open it. Is it considered "archival quality"?
Folks I know get published! Yay them! Go them! But shamefully, it.. the ...the flames, flames...on the side of my face...breathing...heaving breaths. How do I tame my inner envy monster? [more inside]
What films and/or podcasts would you recommend for someone interested in writing (mainly fiction and/or screenwriting)? So far, I've really enjoyed watching "Bad Writing" and "Tales from the Script."
I aspire to write beautifully -- what is some great writing that uses colorful, creative language and style? [more inside]
I'm looking for something written from a second generation Asian American perspective that starts with this premise: [My parents/family treat(ed) me badly] But does NOT end with this conclusion: [...but they are immigrants and don't know the culture so I can't really judge them, and they sacrificed so much for me and I feel guilty and they just wanted the best for me, so therefore, I love them to pieces]. [more inside]
Help me understand the editor hierarchy at the magazine I write for. Every article I do for them seems to take a different path, with different editors contacting me about different things, but it's never consistnet. I can never figure out if I'm communicating with the right person. [more inside]
A while ago I read an essay/article/rant online re a fantasy author / series and I'd like to read it again but google is failing me because I can't remember any specifics. [more inside]
Help me rescue my analytical faculties so I can survive the last months of grad school with my dignity intact. [more inside]
In older times, ships used to have sailors. These sailors had actual job functions, like adjusting the sails, checking on the rigging, etc. Later on, when ships were steam-powered, there were jobs like "putting coal in the engine" or "maintaining the boiler." However, in modern times, with all the technology in a cargo vessel, it seems to me that sailing it is something that could be done by a single person. So what do all the other sailors do? To put it another way, what are the actual "job functions" and titles of sailors about a modern cargo ship?
I am not casual. My job requires me to write casually. I keep getting told to be less "direct" in my intercommunication style with people. Oh yeah, and I'm an Aspie woman. [more inside]
I'm job hunting for the first time in a few years, and I just saw a perfectly delicious looking Content Editor gig at a women's apparel website. They want me to include my writing portfolio, for obvious reasons. What's the most current best practice for how this should be formatted and attached to my application email? I have a variety of blog, website, and social media content from my current and former jobs. Should I just pick my favorite clips, toss them in a word doc, and attach it? Something fancier? Any formatting specifics? Should I also include a link to my personal website with more samples? Thanks, writerly Mefites!
I read a lot, and my receptive vocabulary is excellent. However, no so much on the expressive side. I tend to repeat the same word over and over in my writing, and sometimes have difficulty picking appropriate word to succinctly capture a concept. So, what's a good and specific exercise(s) for increasing one's expressive vocabulary?
Years ago (years!) I recall a TV show with Carl Sagan wherein he was standing in a library and made the point that if he read x books per week for x number of years then he would have read a small fraction of the books that have ever been written. His point was that even a well-read person can only ingest a fraction of what is out there. I've always like that quote and would like to find this scene on YouTube or another site... Anyone?
A friend of a friend posted a picture of a note to facebook. Can any of you identify the language and offer a translation of what it says? [more inside]
When I lived in Chicago, there was a great late-night coffee shop called New Wave Cafe in Logan Square that was perfect for after-work writing. I've been having a hard time finding a similar spot since moving to NYC. It doesn't need to be a coffee shop, but it does need to be well-lit enough that I can read, and calm enough that I won't be seen as preventing the establishment from doing business. Bonus points if the place has a neighborhood-y feel with a friendly staff. I live in Greenpoint, work in SoHo, and usually commute via bicycle over the Williamsburg Bridge. Any suggestions, Metafilter?
There are Latin fonts designed to mimic Cyrillic, Asian characters, and many other scripts. What are some examples of foreign-script fonts which mimic Latin characters?
I started freelance writing recently and have met a couple of people who are dream contacts -- a literary agent who's reached out to me for book ideas, and an editor who offered to have lunch with me to see what else I might contribute to their publication. The problem is, I'm very new to this and, though thrilled to be able to write for an audience, am really struggling between courageous ambition and compulsive self-effacement. I know creative producers go through this all the time. However, my question is: how do I take advantage of these opportunities ASAP in spite of it? [more inside]
Professional communicators of Metafilter: Please give me your tips for handling subject matter experts who write poorly, but don't know it. When a colleague is adamant that their disorganised writing and grammatical errors Must Not Be Changed, how do you respond? [more inside]
Are there any blog/writing websites out there that are like Thought Catalog, but slightly more... mature I guess? Without the high-school/college drama or pop culture nonsense. Sometimes I feel just slightly too old for TC's target demographic. :/ But I do enjoy reading short blog posts from a variety of authors. Thanks in advance
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]
For the last few years, I have reviewed every book I read on Goodreads, just for my own edification. I read a lot. I have written a lot. Is there a better use to put this content to? [more inside]
I'm looking for something in Los Angeles that is similar to the Loft in Minneapolis - writing classes for all abilities and ambitions. I am not looking to write the next Pulp Fiction, only to have fun and actually write. I've found one potential place so far - this is a big city!! I must be missing something... right? [more inside]
I'm 31 years old and looking for a career change. I've come to love research and I've always loved reading nonfiction and true crime as well as the exposé articles often published by alternative weeklies. What are some careers that would fit these interests, and how do I work my way towards those careers? [more inside]
I can't think properly while online. Nor can I think properly if the Internet is a few clicks away. So I am looking for a laptop that can run Open Office, Adobe, and MS Word, has a USB port for swapping files on and off. It must not be capable of connecting to the Internet, at least not wirelessly. Alternately, I'd be interested in ways to permanently disable the wireless on my old unibody MacBook Pro, model 1.1. Then I could buy a second laptop for Internet purposes. The goal is two laptops--one that's capable of online work and one that is not.