Questions in the Writing & Language category.
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April 4

what would be a good wordpress theme for serious writers?

Can you recommend a good wordpress theme (or other tool) to build a personal blog that contains really long form writing: book chapters, or long academic articles? I like Medium's style but it is not all about the look. Table of content is a must. [more inside]
posted by dliang at 5:31 PM - 2 answers

I need Ambiguous Names (and more!)

I am looking for names that are ambiguous or even misleading in some way. I am primarily interested in ethnically ambiguous names. [more inside]
posted by Michele in California at 5:04 PM - 91 answers

April 2

Generational space travel SF story/novel ID

Children aboard a generational spaceship find out the hard truth: their predecessors screwed up, they're trapped in the vicinity of a star, and they must try to make the best possible future out of it. Can you help me ID this story? [more inside]
posted by runcifex at 4:13 AM - 5 answers

March 29

The Blind and the Seers?

Looking for a character from myth, legend, fiction, or history who famously couldn't see. Whatcha got? [more inside]
posted by Mystical Listicle at 2:39 PM - 46 answers

I need someone else's beautiful words

My younger sister is dying from cancer. I’m told she doesn’t have much time left. We’ve said our good-byes, but I can still visit her every few days for now. When I went to see her last night at the hospital, she was sedated and drifting in and out of consciousness. I’m not a chatty sort of person, so I took a couple of books of Dennis Lee poems I used to read to her when we were kids. Reading those aloud was good for a two-hour visit where she was aware I was there, but she wasn’t able to talk. I got some smiles from her, though. Taking the same books again seems low effort, but regular books have a narrative that I don’t think she’ll be able to follow. I think nice words without much of a storyline would work best, but I don’t know much poetry. I was wondering if folks had some suggestions as to what might be appropriate? She is religious (Salvation Army), I am not. She's read a lot of fantasy and romance.
posted by TORunner at 11:56 AM - 31 answers

Shaking yes or nodding: is this variation regional?

Today I told someone on the phone that other people in the room were shaking their heads. She asked if they were shaking no or yes. Another coworker remarked later on how weird this was, and how I said "nod" deliberately later in the call. So it made me wonder, in English (especially in US English), is "nod" vs "shake yes" a regional variation?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 10:29 AM - 35 answers

How do you credit a technical consultant for a novel

OK, so I have fiction project. To do it properly, it's going to need factual, reality-based insights into a field I'm not an expert in. My buddy is, however, and he's going to consult to get the non-fictiony bits right. Cool! But this isn't like a retired detective doing some fact-checking and correcting process-based details. It's consultation on some core thematic & big idea stuff. Like imagine Orwell tried to write Animal Farm but only had a Wikipedia-level grasp of the USSR. How do I credit that?
posted by dontjumplarry at 8:52 AM - 10 answers

March 26

Can I make some side money spearheading an online literary magazine?

I am wanting to start an online literary magazine on the side while I pursue a MFA and intern in the coming fall. I am wondering if it is worth starting a literary magazine to make some pocket change? I know some magazines struggle, and I am wondering if there's any advice on how to make an ample amount? My first aim was non-profit, but there isn't much money in it, unless donations are given. I suppose it depends on the philosophical motive. I want to share and preserve the literary works, but I also want to make some money while doing this. Literarure and poetry are my two greatest passions. It's a lot of work to design and market this out of free labour; I do a lot of volunteer work myself, bur some extra cash with this project is something I would like to pursue. Some people may not view literary magazines as a business franchise while others may do so. Thoughts? Thanks, RW.
posted by RearWindow at 2:04 PM - 9 answers

March 25

Can one say 'Babylonian Encyclopedia' in Latin?

I want the meaning to be 'written by the Babylonians' rather than 'about the Babylonians', and google has left me thoroughly confused! (This is for a literary project rather than an historical one; the idea being that the Babylonians write a jolly good encyclopedia but have named it in Latin for some reason!)
posted by danteGideon at 2:00 PM - 7 answers

How can I enjoy studying Spanish?

I'm serious about learning Spanish, but I've come to dread my daily study sessions. What sort of framing, routines, or projects made language-learning more enjoyable for you? [more inside]
posted by newtonstreet at 1:30 PM - 17 answers

March 23

Caesar si viveret, ad remum dareris.

I wish for translation to be done, from Latin. [more inside]
posted by Evilspork at 11:25 AM - 7 answers

March 22

What do these phrases mean actually?

From "The Third Man" by Green. Martins and the police are in the sewer chasing Harry. Martins said," It's odd thing-I don't even know your name." " Bates, sir." He gave a low laugh in the darkness. "This isn't my usual beat. Do you know the Horseshoe,sir?" "Yes." "And the Duke of Grafton?" "Yes." "Well, it takes a lot to make a world." My questions are..what the Horseshoe and the Duke of Grafton are and, what this Bates's last phrase means. I wonder if both are the names of the popular places like Sherlock Holmes House.. in the UK and if they are located in his usual beat ?? I googled them, but I couldn't find the answer.Thank you for helping me.
posted by mizukko at 7:38 PM - 8 answers

March 21

Celebrity turned author, how much writing do they actually do?

I love reading books about makeup, fashion, celebrity lifestyle etc. I have a number of books in my collection written by celebrities or people that are not from writing backgrounds (a costume designer for example). I am really curious to know how much actual writing they do and how the relationship with the 'written with...' person works. Examples after the jump. [more inside]
posted by Youremyworld at 6:35 PM - 5 answers

What to include in a day planner's "general information" spread?

A strange series of events has ended up with me needing to provide the text that will appear on a "handy general information" spread of a 365-day planner book. The likely audience for this book, based on its theme and art (sorry, I can't be more specific), is teenagers and early college students. [more inside]
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:15 AM - 24 answers

A fully-formed question for a half-formed thought

Is there a specific word for a "half-formed thought"? I have been puzzling over it and Google has been no help. I vaguely recall reading something about such a word, but memory is a fickle friend. Does this word exist? If not, are there any close approximations? Thanks all.
posted by awkwardpanda at 4:07 AM - 5 answers

March 20

They Said to Me; "Mike, they said"...

Please help me identify what manner of speech this is that my co-worker uses. [more inside]
posted by Hanuman1960 at 12:46 PM - 33 answers

What do submarines have to do with anything?

Minor spoilers for Howl's Moving Castle (the book). A character in Howl's Moving Castle describes a poem as being about submarines. What are they talking about? [more inside]
posted by henuani at 10:55 AM - 6 answers

March 19

Help me tell someone how to prounounce my name

In a couple of months, I will get my B.S. in geography. I must register online for graduation. The form has a space to indicate the phonetic pronunciation of my name. I have no idea how to do this in a concise way. [more inside]
posted by maurreen at 12:04 PM - 9 answers

Help me find an old comic story about an alien!

The short version - I'm looking for a two-part story about an alien I remember from my childhood. I think it was in one of the Warren publications - Eerie, Creepy, or something similar. Very late 70s or early 80s, I think. [more inside]
posted by jzb at 8:05 AM - 5 answers

March 18

What book did my partner read as a child?

My partner is trying to remember a book he loved (and found emotionally devastating) as a child. He read it in English in the Netherlands in 1996, if that helps. This is the plot he remembers: a boy travels back to the age of dinosaurs and befriends a bunch of them, including a mother and baby stegosaurus. The book ends with him escaping back to his own time just before the meteor hits, and finding a dig site with the fossils of his stegosaurus friends. Any ideas?
posted by naturalog at 6:40 PM - 3 answers

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