Questions in the Writing & Language category.
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April 20

Looking for an article about how white men can get away with things.

Several years ago I read an article by some guy who talked about how he just stopped asking permission and started doing things -- going to work parties that weren't where he worked, or a bar mitzvah he wasn't invited to, and how he never got into trouble for it and was teaching his son to do the same. This amount of detail has proved to be impossible to google for. Does anyone remember it? It was roundly mocked by people who are not white men.
posted by jeather at 1:37 PM - 4 answers

April 19

What are the best stories on

There are some wonderful stories on the site, but I'd like to find more of them. My favorites include: "Miriam and I after the End"."
posted by storybored at 9:57 PM - 4 answers

April 18

I need 3 names that flow

I need names for 3 categories that have a clear order to them. A group of us are trying to come up with this list and we have been having problems. [Fast, Medium, Slow] and [Large, Medium, Small] are examples, but none of them quite work. [more inside]
posted by soelo at 2:31 PM - 63 answers

April 17

Wasn’t there a change to the law making an old school essay correct?

I have this clear recollection of reading a story (maybe even on the Blue!) about a man (in the US?) who lobbied to change a law for years, and when the change was passed, he was able to get a decade(s?) old school essay regraded because it was factual under the new law. But where is this story?
posted by Martijn at 1:38 AM - 4 answers

April 16

Mentions of gadgets in literature

I was reading one of the excellent Sherlock Holmes short stories, though I don't recall which one, and was struck by the off-hand mention of a telephone. I know that this and many other devices had a presence in the 19th century, but am curious about their depiction in literature. How did "gadgets," enter the popular consciousness? [more inside]
posted by Alensin at 2:19 PM - 11 answers

April 13

Icelandic language History and Culture

I need to research the Icelandic language for a writing project. I am not trying to learn how to speak/read it. My focus is on the history, evolution, purity movements, and impact on culture. I'm fine with both scholarly and general sources. Bonus if you have any intel on how the Icelandic language has impacted Icelandic arts/culture or vice versa. [more inside]
posted by mermaidcafe at 11:59 PM - 3 answers

Desperately in need of clever couple code phrase

In a story I’m writing, two of the characters are a gay couple in the early stages of opening up their relationship. I want for them to have come up with a sort of short code phrase they can use in mixed company at parties to say “I’ve met a really cute guy and things are looking promising and I don’t wanna miss my chance, so if you need to leave or whatever that’s fine I’ll catch up with you later and report back on how things went.” [more inside]
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:57 AM - 18 answers

April 12

Sneaky Sex, Victorian Edition

For a piece of fiction, and I'm stumped! My characters are having an illicit sexual liaison that began when they ran into each other out of town. The era is Victorian. The woman is a gentlewoman of modest but independent means, and has no living family. The man is wealthy, and extremely well-known in the city where they live. They are both unmarried. They can't go to his house (lots of servants, gossip-mongers) or her house (super-strict landlady for unmarried women). They know each other socially and attend some of the same parties, but they are not (as far as anyone knows) close. Where might they sneak off to while they're in their home city? [more inside]
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:30 PM - 39 answers

April 10

I'm a virtual assistant. What's my name?

I've been trying for a while now to come up with a name for my freelance VA service and not getting anywhere. Halp! Snowflakes (of course) inside. [more inside]
posted by camyram at 7:16 AM - 6 answers

April 9

Why only subject and object?

It feels like the convention in English, when stating pronouns, is to give nominative and accusative cases (eg writing she/her or they/them) Why only those two? [more inside]
posted by frimble at 10:36 PM - 9 answers

April 5

Best resource for learning...Tajik?

I'm interested in learning how to speak/understand Farsi, but I'd like to ease into it. To me this means not learning another alphabet. I already know the Cyrillic alphabet, so I'm thinking that Tajik might be a good bet. Do you know any good tools for learning Tajik? Or a guide for Farsi that does not involve reading/writing?
posted by aaanastasia at 1:00 PM - 8 answers

What's that book: The only river in the world dries up

Help me recall a young adult book I read in the late 1990s/early 2000s, about a girl's journey to the source of the only river in her world. [more inside]
posted by DSime at 10:18 AM - 3 answers

April 4

novels set in besieged cities.

I'm having some trouble plotting a book and I want to see how other authors have done it. I need books that have characters interacting inside a siege or other enclosure in interesting ways, while the faceless enemy is outside. [more inside]
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:44 PM - 30 answers

March 31

So much water.

Looking for the name of a YA book series about people who, unbeknownst to them, live in a dry Mediterranean basin; and it is slowly filling. It features big cats and the environment lacks of wood (an intact log is a king's treasure). Anyone recall the name? [inspired by this front page post] [more inside]
posted by Mitheral at 7:17 PM - 6 answers

Where can I find collaborative writing/role-laying partners?

A couple friends and I have a sort of shared world, where we have a Dropbox full of character concepts and "threads," in which those characters interact. It's light-hearted urban fantasy with some erotic overtones. Where can I find other people to engage in this sort of thing? [more inside]
posted by Alensin at 2:20 PM - 5 answers

Name my SLP practice please

I'm struggling to come up with a name for my speech and language pathology company. Those of you that are good with catchy wording please help me out! [more inside]
posted by rrose selavy at 5:35 AM - 17 answers

March 30

What alternatives to traditional storytelling exist?

Most cultures love to tell stories: spoken or written accounts of specific individuals who go on a quest/endure a challenge over a linear time frame, culminating in a resolution. But what other kinds of story-like practices have been reported in human societies past and present? An example might be the lists in Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book. Other made up examples: stories about concepts not people, stories with no time axis, stories with no ending; stories made of material objects; stories in Q&A form; etc.
posted by dontjumplarry at 9:36 PM - 13 answers

March 26

Navigating group conversations in another language?

Speakers of more than one language: how do you politely navigate group conversations when everyone is speaking really fast and you don't understand everything? [more inside]
posted by iamsuper at 4:20 PM - 11 answers

Everyone gets a nombre but me?

I’m trying to understand some Google Translate weirdness. For English->Spanish entering "my name is ____" translates to "mi nombre es ____" for every name I can think of. Except Tim. "my name is Tim" translates to "me llamo Tim". As much as I like to feel special this is weirding me out a bit. Can anyone suggest an explanation?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:22 AM - 19 answers

March 24

Every paper I write feels like the first one I've ever written!

I have written innumerable papers and essays throughout my academic career, but upon entering grad school writing a papers have just felt like a struggle. In particular, it's like I've forgotten how to properly structure a paper and I probably spend more time figuring out how to structure my ideas/arguments than I do actually writing my papers. How can I stop worrying about the structure and just get on with writing my papers? [more inside]
posted by modesty.blaise at 1:31 PM - 13 answers

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