Writers.stackexchange.com is the no-nonsense Writers’ enthusiast Q&A built by users. Instead of wading through a lot of random discussion to get to the good stuff, the best answers are always voted to the top!

I’ve been spending a lot of time at this site, and I think some of the Nose’s regular readers might like the Writers site as well. It’s kind of a cross between a forum and reddit and a wiki. Here are samples of some great questions from the site, edited down a little:

How does one deal with world builder’s syndrome?, by Nathan Fischer

I do quite a bit of planning for the world that the story will be set in. I know that’s not a bad thing, but I have noticed that I have a tendency to get bogged down in specific events–especially historical events. I’ll find myself describing entire battles or diplomatic missions or even important local events as though they were the story itself–and almost none of that is ever going to even show up in the story!

I really enjoy that preparation, but eventually my notes become so unwieldy, it’s hard to actually sit down and write the story while keeping it all straight. Not to mention that it’s kind of wasting time when I could be writing. Is there a helpful way to gauge when “enough is enough”? How do I put an end to this world builder’s syndrome I’ve got?

How can I write an attention-grabbing first line?, by Reverend Gonzo

The beginning of any story needs to capture the attention of the reader, so he continues [reading].

A Confederacy of Dunces starts “A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head” and gives you just enough to visualize the character, yet so little to make you want to continue to read.

What techniques are there to come up with a line to simply capture a reader’s interest?

What’s the modern way to handle gender in tech writing?, by Lynn Beighley

Back in my day, I was taught to use masculine pronouns: “The user chooses a password, and then he types it in the text box.”

I’m fine with that. but a male coworker insists on using he/she, which I find needlessly distracting and complicated.

I hate using they and their. I find that too convoluted, and not nearly clear enough when you want to talk about one person doing one thing.

What is the current thought on this? What’s the most acceptable way to go?

Follow the links to read the full questions and the answers. The community votes on which answers we think answer the question best, so the best answers will be the ones on top of the page.

This post is based on content from writers.stackexchange.com.

Neil Fein is a freelance editor who specializes in novels. If you’ve written a manuscript or are getting close to finishing, you can get in touch with him here, and even ask for a free sample edit. He’s also the guitarist in the band Baroque & Hungry, he rides his bicycle as much as he can, and he paints when the mood strikes him.


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