ASK the Writer - W/response links


An Old Friend
Ask The Writer
Expert Advice from a Gotham Teacher
  • Is there a standard to the spacing of lines of a manuscript? I've heard several authors talk about the number of pages they write per day as a goal. The Response
  • Now that I have several chapters of my novel completed, I would like to know how to go about finding an agent? Any suggestions? The Response
  • I am trying to keep to a strict third-person limited point of view from the perspective of a single character. How can I let the reader know what my character looks like? The Response
  • Should new writers start with short stories before writing a novel? The Response
  • Should I revise as I write? The Response
  • I’ve seen this word spelled two ways: “all ready” and “already.” Which is right? The Response
  • In dialogue, what is subtext? The Response
  • Do novel chapters need titles? The Response
  • Why is the use of a deus ex machina discouraged in storytelling? The Response
  • I recently had an essay published in an anthology. While the content was not changed, my punctuation was. It's my first publication and I'd like to be able to use it in my portfolio, but will it reflect poorly on my writing skills? The Response
  • Should I leave my scene alone, knowing that I wrote it before someone actually performed a strikingly similar heroic deed, or should I change it since readers will undoubtedly believe that I simply copied from the headlines? The Response
  • How do I know if something is a cliché? The Response
  • I enjoy making up characters, but I’m not sure where to go from there. How do I take all these characters and write actual stories? The Response
  • Is putting the copyright symbol on my manuscripts enough to protect my ideas? The Response
  • Can I use the same theme from another writer’s book as long as I change the characters and the situations? The Response
  • Are ellipses the best way to show a pause in dialogue? The Response
  • When is it appropriate to use “you” in fiction? The Response
  • I like using adjectives but I often hear they make for weak descriptions. What’s so bad about them? The Response
  • How does a novelist cite research material? Should I include a bibliography? Or use footnotes? The Response
  • After telling a story using third person from one character's perspective for about three-fourths of the story, is it possible to smoothly shift to another perspective for the final quarter? The Response
  • How much of a memoir should be true? The Response
  • Is it true that for submission purposes italics in a manuscript should be replaced with underlined words? What is considered standard for the industry? The Response
  • I have writing slumps that can last for weeks because I can’t think of anything interesting to write about. How do I avoid this? The Response
  • At what point should I show my work to someone? The Response
  • What is in medias res? The Response
  • Why does the exclamation mark have such a bad reputation? When is it acceptable to use it? The Response
  • When you’re writing about a character’s thoughts aren’t you always “telling” instead of “showing”? The Response
  • What is the best way to write a telephone conversation when only one side is heard? The Response
  • Does a story have to have a moral? The Response
  • What is a run-on sentence? The Response
  • I am writing a story set in the 1700s in the US about a child that has been captured by Indians. I want to show some of the problems the child has of learning the new language. What is the best way to bridge that problem? The Response
  • When should I start thinking about an agent? The Response
  • What is voice? The Response
  • What should a manuscript look like? The Response
  • My main character is an all-out jerk. Some have warned me that this might not go over well with readers. What do you think? The Response
  • What is the difference between genre fiction and literary fiction? How do I know what I’m writing? The Response
  • I often hear that my steamy scenes are too over the top. Are these readers just too squeamish for my stories? The Response
  • How do I know when I have enough short stories to make a book? The Response
  • Readers complain that my characters explain too much in their dialogue. What am I doing wrong? The Response
  • What is passive voice? The Response
  • When describing a character’s appearance, I either over do it or don’t give enough. How do I know what to include and what to leave out? The Response
  • Does fiction have to be grammatically correct? The Response
  • I always hear that writers shouldn’t change point of view, but I see it done in books all the time. Why can’t I do it? The Response
  • I’ve heard that too much phonetic spelling can be hard to read. How do I create the voice of a character who has a distinctive speech pattern or dialect without it? The Response
  • I keep hearing the advice “show, don’t tell,” but I’m not quite sure what it means. Can you explain? The Response
  • How do I jump from one time to another without confusing the reader? The Response
  • How important is the title of a story? The Response
  • If I’m writing a passage where a character is thinking something, should I put the thoughts in italics? The Response
  • After I get done with the first draft of a story, revision feels overwhelming. How can I keep going and not lose my momentum? The Response
  • How do I know where to break for a new chapter when writing a novel? The Response
  • When submitting, should I submit to only one publication or is it wise to submit to several at the same time? The Response
  • Do you have any tips on researching? I’m looking into dendrochronology and I’m having a hard time finding out more about forensic botany without spending hundreds for books I’m not sure would help. The Response
  • How long is a short story? The Response
  • Why is a faction—blending fact with fiction—unacceptable as a genre in literary works? The Response
  • Setting doesn’t seem all that important. As long as the reader has an idea of where it happens, isn’t that enough? The Response
  • What is a mixed metaphor? The Response
  • Now that I have several chapters of my novel completed, I would like to know how to go about finding an agent? Any suggestions? The Response
  • Is there a standard to the spacing of lines of a manuscript? I've heard several authors talk about the number of pages they write per day as a goal. The Response
  • How do you avoid making a character too one-dimensional? The Response
  • How is dialogue punctuated? The Response
  • I write both poetry and fiction. Is it better to develop skills in one specific genre or go back and forth between genres? The Response