Questionables: The Index

Every now and then, I throw open the comments to writing questions, and then take the next month or so to answer them all at length.  Below is a sorted list of all the answers up to July 1, 2019.  You can also search for “Questionable” since all the titles begin with that, and all the posts are tagged that.   There’s some repetition of questions in there–we’ve been doing this a long time and there’s been no organization so people couldn’t check to see what had been asked–but all the answers are there.  Organized.  Easier to find.  Progress.

And as always, these answers are my opinion only, not rules, not even guidelines.  There are many roads to Oz, follow your own road and your instincts.

Note: This page will be updating for days as I add the links after I revise  and tag each post.  Yes, it’s worth it.

Discovery and Drafting:

What is the discovery process?

How do you get from idea to story?

How do you start a story?

How do you focus on one story?

What’s this book about?

How do you move between writing new scenes and rewriting?

How do you organize your computer files for a book?

How do you brainstorm on a computer?

How do you do digital collage?

How do you use images in your discovery process?

What is a premise, a central story question, and a theme?

How do you deal with surprises in a first draft?

Does it matter if you write longhand on paper or on a computer?

How much research should I do?


Character and Conflict:

What makes a character watchable?

How do you write characters that readers connect with?

How do you create character chemistry with the reader?

How do you create character depth to make characters real?

How can I write in emotional shorthand to avoid overwriting my characters?

What are positive and negative goals?

How do I identify character goals?

How do you write character goals in a romance?

How do you get your characters to act?

What makes a great protagonist?

How do you make the protagonist come alive on the page?

How do I identify my antagonist?

How can you love your antagonist?

How can you like unlikable characters?

How do you plot multiple antagonists?

Can I have sub-antagonists?

How do you create a strong character arc?

What is deep point of view?

How do you write multiple point-of-view characters?

How do you show what the  point-of-view character doesn’t see?

How do you have characters think in story?

Can a love interest be an antagonist?

Is sociology a better approach to character than psychology?

How do  you write the Wound from the Past?

How do you write the ordinary guy (not alpha or beta hero)?

How do you write conflict in a romance?

Should I use lots of description?

How do you choose character names?


Plot and Structure:

How does form affect story?

How do you turn an idea into a plot?

How long should a scene and chapter be?

What does building a reversal mean?

What is patterned structure?

How do you focus on one plot when your book has two?

How do you start and develop subplots?

How do you move a story through time?

How do you make two timelines work?

What’s a good opening scene?

How do you write the first scenes in a book?

How do you know if a scene isn’t necessary?

How do you write good love scenes?

How do you write sex in stories?

What is too much detail in a sex scene?

What are beats?

How do you write back story.

How do you work with back story and flashback?

How do you work with red herrings and gotchas?

How do you write endings?


Critique and Revision:

How do you evaluate a first draft?

What do you look for in revisions?

How do I save a book that I’m no longer interested in writing?


Publishing and Marketing:

What do editors do?

What are some of the reasons for rejection?

What if I write a lot of different genres and subgenres?

What’s the difference between YA and adult fiction?

Can you put a death in a romcom?

Is collaborating on a novel a good idea?

How different is collaborating from writing solo?

How do you make a collaboration work?

How do you deal with after-publishing regrets?

What are the top ten things you know about publishing?


Everything Else:

How important are the rules in writing fiction?

How can the concepts of fiction be used in non-fiction?

How do you start a memoir?

Why can’t I write?

How do I keep writing when I’m overwhelmed by daily life?

How do you manage your writing time.

What are good writing how-to books?

What are some good writing prompts?

What is your writing process? (HAHAHAHAHAHA)


20 thoughts on “Questionables: The Index

  1. I’ve found many times in my life, especially when overwhelmed with work or other things, that undertaking a big organizational project let me focus on a project that would really improve things for me, and my subconscious worked on the other problems without me noticing.

    I’d end up with a perfectly decluttered and organized clothes closet, and also a plan to fix a dicey situation at my job. But with only focusing on the closet. Or the time I re-organized my kitchen, and ended up starting an exercise program that lasted years, until I re-injured my knee. But the exercise program was born of the incredible enthusiasm generated by the organizing of the kitchen and meals.

  2. Every time I organize anything in the house or at work, I spend the next 3 months looking for stuff. Hahaha. But I’m sure your website organization efforts will have better results and more people appreciating your efforts!

    The following may be more a “WebMistress Molly” question than a Jenny one, but I’ve been wondering:

    Can the argink search box be moved closer to the top of the homepage? I know site search boxes are flawed, but they can still be helpful. I can run a “site” search on Google but I like to try a site’s search first. But I always look for the search box at the top of a site.

    Note, which can be skipped unless you want a Google search tip: the Google “site” search I’m referring to looks like this, e.g., if I wanted to find all mentions of me (LauraO) in argink, here is what my Google search would be:


    A site search helps one get rid of a lot of junk results, e.g., if I’m looking for an education site (, government site (, etc. and don’t want all the dot com sites to show up in my search results.

    1. And to add what I learned from Sure Thing: you can also have Google omit a site from your search results – I’m looking at you, Pinterest. So:

      diy Sharpie mugs

      1. That’s brilliant. I use the site search heaps but never knew you could exclude sites.

      2. Word. Learning this made things so much more useful. Alas, Pinterest wised up so I have to also use the and other regional suffixes.

  3. i have never searched your blog, but i tried to find where nita all started with your critique of the lucifer show and came up empty

    last night i started it with 8-episode marathon, and i LOVED it

    since i recall its deficiencies started you on the nita trajectory, i was wondering where those entries might be


    1. They’re all off line right now until I get all the Nita posts organized. You got here just as I started a massive site clean and reorganization. It’ll be much better, I swear.

  4. Hurrah! Thank you, thank you. Bookmarking so I can revisit as you add the links. I think there are many I haven’t seen.

  5. in the meantime, what were the issues (briefly)?

    it strikes me as something you would have liked, based on the others you like–i am reminded of leverage in particular


    i write this after watching another chunk (yawn)–there are many episodes per season

  6. As of right now (midday, fourth of July) I have the first page of these posts up. again. First out of six. I’ll try to get another page up today, but it’ll be awhile here.

  7. Looks great! Ton of work.

    FYI The link to the conflict question (“How do you write conflict in a romance?”) is broken.

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