60 Answered Questions for the topic Style
What helpful writing exercises do you use?
The two I do most are dialog and description related. When I meet a person or I'm just sitting people watching, I try to write their description in my head as if I was describing a character in a... more
What are the limits to description in story writing? How do I know if I have crossed them?
Time and time again, I have been told that my unfounded focus on description distracts from the main story line. I mostly write stories in English, which doesn't happen to be my first language but... more
Why does using this "-ing" verb construction make my writing weaker?
I had to write a scholarship essay, wherein I wrote this sentence:> Over the ensuing years I read as much as I could, *trying* to increase my knowledge and understanding of my own language.I... more
What are the differences between a script and a screenplay?
There is usually a lot of confusion when it comes to these two terms. Some sources say that there is no (practical) difference between the two while other sources talk of various kinds of... more
How do you avoid purple prose?
I try to watch out for bland, overused adjectives and I keep adverbs to a minimum but -- I hear this phrase a lot and I'm not even sure what it means?
What is the correct usage of "P.S." in Emails?
I've been wondering this for a while. What is the correct usage of "P.S." in e-mails? Where should and shouldn't it be used?
All of a sudden... ?
I am writing a manuscript for a novel. It's my first attempt, and often I find myself wanting to write "suddenly" or "all of a sudden". I do this when I want the scene to change in an instant, or... more
How do you map out your storyline?
There are various ways for mapping out the storyline that you will use for a story. One of them is to create a bullet-point outline, which would theoretically be useful because of the hierarchy... more
Dashes vs. Commas vs. parentheses?
Occasionally I write sentences containing subparts with extra information. I never know how to block off this information from the rest of the sentence. Three ways I have seen are dashes, commas,... more
When is it okay to "tell", instead of "show"?
One of the major mantras of writing fiction is "show, don't tell".Is it ever okay to tell? When?
When should modifiers be avoided?
I've come across this Mark Twain quote: > When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them -- then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close... more
What punctuation to use when a character is writing something down?
I'm trying my hand at editing a friends work, and I've got a little stumped.They wrote the following:> 'Thinks he's the smartest one in the room,' Henry wrote on a piece of paper.(For context,... more
Why does this software suggest capitalizing the word 'dragon'?
Why did Grammarly suggest capitalizing the word 'dragon' in this sentence? It says it does not fit the context so needs to be capitalized:<blockquote>Small birds chattered and scooted about... more
Style when intentionally misspelling?
I am copyediting and doing layout on a play that includes a few plays on words and intentional misspellings. At first glance they read like typos. I am wondering if the convention is that I should... more
How to simplify a sentence so that a younger audience can understand it?
I have the following sentence:> Pocket squares are a standout amongst the most vital apparatuses for a> man of style. It's important to have the correct pocket square for the> correct... more
Maintaining the consistency of voice and spontaneity throughout a piece?
So straight to it, I don't write very long pieces. Usually poetry or flash fiction and a smattering of short stories whenever it needs to be longer, though I have aspirations (mostly just dreams)... more
Is there a hack to bring out your "true" voice?
I've just approved my typeset manuscript and re-reading the book, I'm aware that it sounds very far away from my internal voice. Whilst it has all of the elements in practice, the colour and... more
Possible interactions of punctuation marks with the word "however" in a novel?
When using the word **"however"** in my story, I feel like using a semicolon before it disrupts the flow of words in the readers head too much.So, is the usage of a comma or semicolon necessary in... more
Style signatures and uncommon formatting patterns?
**_Style signatures_** are bits of words and phrases used consistently throughout the entirety of a work (but not necessarily among my unrelated works). I would like to try using style signatures... more
Style of poetry that plays with typographic rivers?
> In typography, rivers, or rivers of white, are gaps in typesetting, which appear to run through a paragraph of text, due to a coincidental alignment of spaces. >... more
What is the correct way to write a fractional number in a formal letter?
If I'm talking about a length of time in a cover letter, let's say 5.5 years, what would be the correct way to write this? - five-and-a-half years - 5-1/2 years - 5.5 years
What is the fine line between "confidence" and "presumption"?
I am about to apply to a grad school, and I have prepare the SOP for it (think it like a cover letter to apply to a job). I know the rule: show what I've got, not tell how I think I'm cool. I've... more
How do I change a novel from first person to limited third person?
For various reasons (increased clarity, and an interested agent), I'm rewriting what was once two first-person POVs into a third person limited POV. Other answers have previously established the... more
How do speech writers find the contents that make their speeches so impressive?
I wonder, when I hear JFK, Obama, Lincoln, Gandhi, Modi. The sentences, phrases in their speeches are so impressive. The content of their speeches are wonderful. I desire to be a successful orator... more
How can I keep my writing from being perceived as "too complicated"?
This is from a piece I wrote a couple of years back:> The sky seemed like a big, large pool of grey smoke. The weather was cool, moist. A fresh, earthy smell hung on the air.> I peered... more