Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Writing

Writing communities are often flooded by the same questions asked over and over again. It’s not that these questions don’t receive answers, it’s that the people asking them would apparently rather post a new question and come back tomorrow for the answers than do a Google search and find the old answers in thirty-ish seconds. So answering this set I ripped from an internet rando without permission (I regret nothing) isn’t going to change anything, but it’s easy snark, so what the Hell, it’ll be fun.

  • What’s the “best” program or computer to write with?

If your word processor has both italics and bold, you’re golden.

  • What’s the “best” way to write, outline or no outline?

Try both, stick with whatever works.

  • How do I outline?

In your native language. Even if you’re aiming for an English reading audience, you can save translations for when you’re writing your actual first draft.

  • What’s the “best” POV to write in; first or third?

Whatever other people in your genre are using.

  • How do I make my characters interesting?

Have you tried making some friends who aren’t quite so interminably dull?

  • Can you fix my story?

Probably, yes. Now fuck off.

  • I am (X), and want to write a character that is (Y). How do I do this?

Offensively. You are, in theory, capable of doing enough research to write (Y) in an informed manner, but let’s face it, you will, at most, read one politically motivated blog post that might be from someone who has any kind of interest in writing outside of culture wars, and that is not going to be enough research to stop you from writing some caricature that is as insulting as it is dull.

  • How do I learn dialog?

How have you gotten this far without figuring out how conversations work?

  • My story has stalled out, help me fix it.

What exactly do you expect your job is in all this?

  • I need a “good twist”, someone give me one.

Stop trying to build your work on novelty gimmicks.

  • I need an endearing flaw that excuses all the awesome qualities my character has.

Have them angst about being good at too many things. It’s a fucking curse.

  • What cliches/tropes should I avoid?

You shouldn’t.

  • What cliches/tropes should I use?

Whatever’s common to most or all books selling well in your genre. Cliches that show up in all works that your target audience likes are either harmless coincidences or a critical part of the appeal.

  • How long do I have to make my chapters or paragraphs?

About 5k to 10k words per chapter, though it varies by genre. Paragraphs should be frequent enough as to make it easy for the reader to keep their place when reading, and there should be some kind of breakpoint between one and the other.

  • I really want to use a prologue or dream sequence.

Bash your head against the wall until the desire subsides.

  • There’s this (lists common basic maxim of writing) that I think is bullshit because even though I’ve never written a single successful story I want to break it and prove all the haters wrong.

You’ll do well on Reddit. Not in terms of actually getting people to read your story, mind you, but you’ll get lots of upvotes from idiot contrarians.

  • How do I write?

You seem to have gotten the first four words on your own.

  • I just decided to write a five part epic story, but I still don’t even not use possessive ‘S’ in tweets and that’s the most writing I’ve ever done, so how do I do write my grand opus?

From the beginning. By the time you get even halfway through one book, you will realize it is dumb and do something else. Making the generous assumption that you can actually get halfway through one book.

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