Questions in the Writing & Language category.
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September 26

Book recommendations 2023

It's (going to be) that time of year again, where I find gifts for people who already have everything. Recommend me some good nonfiction books from this year or last (but not too good, or they'd already own them). [more inside]
posted by queen anne's remorse at 3:57 PM - 13 answers

September 22

What did Julia Sand say?

Wondering if anyone knows where one can read all of the (typed/transcribed) letters of Julia Sand to Chester Arthur. More specific instructions below. [more inside]
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:30 PM - 11 answers

September 21

Your favorite literary quotes about the afterlife

I just finished reading The Goldfinch and the best part for me was the narrator's vivid imaginings of their deceased parent "on the other side." Can you suggest literary works that have memorable, poetic, vivid intimations of what the afterlife is like?
posted by tackypink at 2:20 PM - 21 answers

September 20

Are Two Journals Better Than One?

Just starting out on a five week journey out of the country and discovered I left my journal at home and will have to buy a new one for the trip. How can I integrate two half full, hand written, journals into one ongoing document? [more inside]
posted by Xurando at 8:00 PM - 9 answers

September 11

Kitchen Confidential

Next songwriting topic ... tell me about your memories and experiences of the kitchen [more inside]
posted by falsedmitri at 1:37 PM - 20 answers

September 8

What is an “arch prose style?”

From this article: “Her arch prose style recalled the anomie of ‘The Andy Warhol Diaries’” [more inside]
posted by wheatlets at 11:30 AM - 10 answers

Who is the author of this vaguely-remembered quote about religion?

The gist was, and I'm sure I'm loosely paraphrasing: "It's ok to believe in whatever convenient little lie (or fiction?) that helps you get through the day." My first thought was Vonnegut, but I can't find it or anything similar.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:29 AM - 2 answers

September 7

What Is The Name Of This Book?... For Dummies

I've just started working through Raymond Smullyan's classic text of logic puzzles What is The Name Of This Book? with offspring #2 and they, not trusting my explanations of such things, have asked if there's an answer-sheet with breakdowns of the solutions for it anywhere, as the book doesn't answer the questions it poses. Can anyone point me to one?
posted by Hogshead at 5:20 PM - 2 answers

When someone invalidates the question being asked instead of answering

This seems to be something rampant on internet forums, and I actually find it sort of rude. [more inside]
posted by alex_skazat at 4:38 PM - 46 answers

"Hard" vs. "soft" sibilants

Consider the pair of words (1a) mace, (1b) maze, as well as the pair (2a) zing, (2b) sing. Each pair has a single difference in sound. In each pair, would it occur to you to call one of the sounds "hard" and the other "soft" (or, if it wouldn't occur to you naturally, would you nevertheless have a strong instinct about which was which if someone else used those terms)? If so, which word in each pair has the "hard" sound?

Please note: I know the terms linguists would use instead of "hard" and "soft"; no need to mention those or to explicate the distinction. This question is about folk usage. 
posted by aws17576 at 11:29 AM - 31 answers

September 6

Chatfilter: What words have you misread or missaid for a long time?

#metafilterfundraiser2023 Today I learned that the little picture on your web browser is a favicon. Not a flavicon - which is how I managed to read it since the auction last year...I discovered my mistake trying to auction off cortex's stained glass version of MetaFilter's flavicon - which you can bid on here. [more inside]
posted by skunk pig at 6:15 PM - 84 answers


I once again solicit your experiences for the sake of songwriting ... next ... A person who gives themself the illusion of freedom but really doesn't have it. There are no external forces preventing it but they consciously and/or unconsciously limit themselves. Not physical limitations, more like psychological or emotional ones, though I don't want to rule out anything. [more inside]
posted by falsedmitri at 6:46 AM - 7 answers

September 5

Tie a tooth to a doorknob

What books include a child's tooth being tied to a doorknob, and then the door being slammed to pull out the tooth? [more inside]
posted by nouvelle-personne at 3:49 PM - 15 answers

August 30

Postcard Story Ideas

I have an extended work trip coming up and I wanted to do something special for my 10-year-old. I was thinking of getting a bunch of different postcards and sending one a day with a partial story written on them so when the twenty or so postcards are all together they create a short story. [more inside]
posted by wile e at 2:58 AM - 7 answers

August 28

'Cause how you get there is the worthier part

I like road trip stories whether there is a goal or just a journey with a faint MacGuffin of purpose. Looking for recommendations for a short story/novella/novel (or heck even real life travel memoir) that consists of adventures on a road trip.
posted by Mitheral at 6:32 PM - 20 answers

Help me remember a book I just read...

I read this book within the past two weeks. Can you identify it from my description of part of the plot? [more inside]
posted by Joan Rivers of Babylon at 6:12 PM - 4 answers

ISO recent mysteries/psychological thrillers with great openings

Which mysteries and/or psychological thrillers have hooked you from the very beginning? I'm looking primarily for novels or short stories written in the last three years or so, but also happy to hear about older works as well as non-fiction, films and/or TV shows. Please also let me know what you found so compelling.
posted by rpfields at 4:29 PM - 7 answers

August 25

How to write more like my favorite authors?

I want to be able to write more like my favorite authors (David Mitchell especially), but I don’t know what to look for as I reread, or how to translate that into my own writing. How can I more closely analyze the books I enjoy to learn what the author is doing on a technical level? [more inside]
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:55 PM - 12 answers

August 23

Podcasts (or other audio) where experts go deep on worthwhile media?

What is says on the tin, more details within [more inside]
posted by wooh at 4:00 AM - 9 answers

August 18

What are the classics of Spanish language children's literature

What are the timeless classics of Spanish-language children's literature? Picture books to middle-grade, of any era and nation, if still beloved today.
posted by latkes at 5:05 PM - 2 answers

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