Have a question about writing? Ask us anything!
Anonymous asked: I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask, but what is the proper way to mention gay or homosexual people in an essay? I'm writing an essay on same-sex marriage for a class.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered are the accepted terms to refer to people with a non-hetero sexual orientation.
Here’s also an interesting link about reducing gender bias when referring to sexual orientation: http://www.colby.edu/psychology/APA/Gender.pdf
I hope this answers your question. Does anyone have anything to add?
Anonymous asked: I wrote my first novel as a project for a writing class last semester. I had a lot of positive critiques on things like character, setting, and description, but there were so many plot holes I missed and overall people thought the plot wasn't great. I really love the characters and idea behind the story so I've been pulling my hair out ever since trying to squeeze a better plot out of my head. I'm so exasperated, I feel like giving up. Should I?
First, congratulations on finishing a novel! Regardless of the feedback you received, you should feel VERY proud of yourself for accomplishing that!
Second, NO! Don’t give up! Never give up! This happens to most of us at some point, and if you love your characters and the idea, you will figure out the perfect plot eventually.
What I would recommend is to start by looking more closely at your main characters. Figure out their inner conflicts—what do they want and why do they want it? Then, figure out what has to happen for them to get what they want. This becomes their goal, and getting to the goal becomes the journey. Once you have the goal and journey figured out, you can figure out little set-backs and ways they can re-gain some ground. Keep outlining different scenarios and when something doesn’t work, find something else that does. Try planning some research trips for inspiration, or make an inspiration tumblr and just re-blog images that appeal to you and fit the world you’re building. Sometimes little plot lines will jump out at you from the most unexpected places.
Keep at it for awhile, but be patient with yourself. Don’t stress about it and just recognize that this process might take awhile. Give yourself permission to take whatever time you need. If ideas for other stories pop-up, write them down for later. Outline them, even. If you must, set aside the plot-challenged novel and work on other things, but keep coming back to it. Keep re-doing the outline and changing little things here and there. Chances are good that something better will evolve over time.
Anonymous asked: How do you make a well-written greeting card for someone, you know for a birthday or Mother's or Father's Day?
When it comes to writing a greeting card, there is no right or wrong way to do it, because the sentiment is coming from your heart. The first thing you’ll want to do is decide what type of card you want to create: something humorous? Something with a quote and your personal message? A poem—either yours or someone else’s? A story? You can look online and at the store to get some ideas for how different types of cards work. Then, simply write what is in your heart and put it into whatever format works best. There are many wonderful resources online for how to write a poem, etc. Whatever you do, just let your heart be your guide. :)
Perfect Things to Write in a Greeting Card
Good luck! And remember, whatever you write will be cherished by the person who receives it simply because YOU wrote it! :)
Ha! I typed “Bathman.” That’s a WHOLE other superhero. o_O
Anyway—WOW! My followers TRIPLED overnight! No idea what happened, but WELCOME ABOARD!
Do you have any writing-related questions I can answer? Need a nudge in the right direction with your research? Need some motivation help or a swift kick in the butt? Lay it on me! The Ask box is open!
Anonymous asked: Any advice on writing a character who is good at arguing and making comebacks? I lack wit myself, and I tend to back away from arguments, so I am awful when it comes to roleplaying/writing these kinds of characters and would like to get better.
This is a great question!
To start with, you’ll want to brush up on the different types of humor to get a better handle on what qualifies as witty.
Next, try watching some movies or TV shows with witty characters and pay attention to the dialogue and how the witty jokes are delivered. Some good ones to check out: (TV) Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Gilmore Girls, Firefly. (Movies) Oceans Eleven, Oceans Twelve, Oceans Thirteen, Juno, Iron Man, The Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean, and also almost every comedy movie made in the 1950s, especially ones that star Cary Grant or Katherine Hepburn. Also, here’s a list of some witty movies, and here’s a list of some witty TV characters.
Here are some links that look really helpful and might help you further:
Kazza’s Guide to Writing a Witty Character
I hope that helps! :)
Anonymous asked: okay so i absolutely love reading, if i could do it all day every day i could. i think reading has some what influenced me into wanting to write something of my own, but i'm just afraid im not good enough, do you have maybe any motivation tips for me that i could possibly use?
If you love to read and read a lot, chances are you’ve already got a pretty good understanding of story structure and what makes a good story, even if you don’t outwardly realize it. And if you have a desire to write on top of that, you’ve already taken two huge steps toward being a great writer!
I think the most important thing a writer can do, especially when they’re just starting off, is give themselves permission to write stuff that isn’t inherently good. I know that sounds crazy, but writing is just like every other art and craft—you can’t pick up a paintbrush for the first time and paint the Mona Lisa, nor can you pick up a guitar for the first time and strum out a wicked riff, and you can’t take chisel to marble for the first time and carve out the statue of David. All artists and artisans have left a trail of awful work behind them. It’s hard to imagine, but it’s true. No one, no matter how talented, starts out of the gate fully formed. That said, in addition to giving yourself permission write badly, you need to write as much as you can. Writing as much as you can equals practice, and the old adage that “practice makes perfect” is as true in writing as it is anywhere else.
So—reach deep down inside and find the confidence within yourself to try but miss the target. And then keep aiming for the target, and keep drawing back and letting that arrow fly—over and over again—because with each passing attempt you’ll get closer and closer to your mark. You’ll get better and better.
Just believe that you have it in you! I do! :)
Anonymous asked: How can I go about writing a cute and endearing character, without making them annoying?
Do a search on “character clichés” and try to avoid them if at all possible. If a trait you really want to use is considered to be cliché, find some way to augment it to make it just a little bit different. You might also try polling friends. Ask them what traits they find cute and endearing and what traits annoy them that others find endearing. Write down your top five favorite cute and endearing characters and then list the traits which make them cute and endearing to you. See where the overlap is and those might be good traits to use. Also, try to avoid too many cute and endearing traits. Choose three or four that will be the essence of the character. Read about “Mary Sues” and make sure your character avoids those common pitfalls.
viking-american asked: I write historical fiction and I've always wondered how much modern readers can handle when it comes to the grosser parts in history, such as amputation during the American Civil War, the 19th century cholera epidemics or trench warfare during World War One. I'm almost completely desensitized to whats disgusting, so I'm wondering if there is way to gauge how much is to much when it comes to the gross factor in historical fiction.
Gore tolerance varies from person-to-person, but when we’re talking about a collective audience, it really depends on the specific audience you’re writing for. For example, if you’re writing for a Young Adult audience, you would want to tone down the gory description while still keeping it real. If you’re writing for adults who enjoy battlefield fiction, you can be a little more descriptive. If you’re writing something with a broader scope—something more character-based that will explore daily life (during the Civil War, for example), relationships, as well as include battlefield scenes, here again you will probably want to dial back on the gore a little while still being realistic about the horrors of war. The best way to do this is to eliminate description that is too specific. For example, using a scoop of ice cream in lieu of gore for the sake of sensitive WQA readers:
The ball of ice cream was no longer round. Its jagged edges melted into sticky rivulets that dribbled down my hand. The sugary scent hit my nose just as the sweetness saturated my tongue.
That level of detail when describing a battlefield injury would be too much for any audience not prepared for it. If you know your audience may not be accustomed to or expecting gore, something like this might be better:
The scoop of ice cream tasted sweet, but it melted down the cone and onto my hand.
The second sentence is missing the imagery of something that is now misshapen. Even without specific details like “jagged edges” and “sticky rivulets”, and without words like “scent” and “saturated”, the reality of the melting ice cream still comes across but without suggesting imagery that might be too vivid for some.
So, the most important thing you can do is know your audience. Know who you’re writing for and what they expect. If you’re not sure, check out similar books in the same genre and geared toward the audience you’re shooting for. That will be a handy guide to how much detail works best. :)