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Is this a site for prospective writers to come and ask for significant help writing a book, or should this be more appropriately addressed at the Writer's SE site? Specifically, there is this question https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/190/i-want-to-write-sci-fi-stories-are-there-any-resources-guidelines-writing-strat

  • Was going to ask this question as I'm sure a few readers have wanted to make the step to becoming a writer. – James P. Jun 28 '11 at 11:50
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No, this site is for science fiction enthusiasts. An enthusiast is someone who has a strong interest in an activity — that is, a consumer.

If a person's interest lie in creating literature (of whatever type), please direct them to the Writers Stack Exchange.

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    I disagree with this. I think if someone is playing with ideas for their Science Fiction story and needs help fleshing them out, this seems the perfect place to ask them. Not only are the questions likely to be of interest to the people who are using this site, the answers those people could provide -- in terms of where and how these ideas have been used previously -- would be invaluable to the writer. The people on the Writer's Stack Exchange would not be able to provide anything even close to that. I think we need to be more careful about drawing this line. – Daniel Bingham Jan 24 '11 at 0:51
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    @Daniel Brigham: If users have a specific question about science fiction (i.e. "...where and how these ideas have been used previously..."), they can ask that question. But in terms of "asking for significant help writing a book," those are better asked on sites for which they were designed. – Robert Cartaino Jan 24 '11 at 1:50
  • In addition, if you're trying to analyze the science behind a particular science fictional concept (scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/257/…), the question would be more appropriate on a science discussion site. – Martha F. Feb 18 '11 at 17:43
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    That is one of the issues with categorizing information. Nothing is clearly cut. It would be great to have a way for questions to exist on a dominant site but accessible for other stack exchanges. – James P. Jun 28 '11 at 11:50
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Update from the future: Worldbuilding.SE now exists, and would love to have some of these questions (but not all of them!). These questions actually form a pretty broad category, so we need to break them down a bit in order to explain what gets asked where.

In general:

  • If you're trying to write new stories set in some existing, published continuity, and are confused about some detail of that franchise, you can and should ask about them here (on Sci-fi & Fantasy).
    • This also works for questions about the history of the genre (e.g. "What was the first time travel story?"), but take care that your question is not overly broad ("What are some early time travel stories?"). If not asking a genre-wide question, make sure the franchise you are asking about is reasonably clear.
    • If you're doing this professionally, you may have access to internal reference materials which are not generally available. Consult those first, if possible. We'd love to answer your question, but we can't cite or refer to things which are not public, so any answer we give might be incomplete.
  • If you're creating a new universe from scratch, and you're getting hung up on some particular detail (e.g. "How do dragons breathe fire?" "Why do they kidnap princesses?" etc.), Worldbuilding may be a good fit.
    • Make sure to specify the kind of story you are writing. There are effectively unlimited reasons for dragons to kidnap princesses; you need to narrow them down by describing your dragons and your princesses (e.g. Are the dragons intelligent? Are the princesses rulers or figureheads? For what plot-related reason do you want a dragon to kidnap a princess?).
  • If you're struggling with a more writing-related problem, like plot or character development, Writers is a better place to turn.
    • Always indicate your target audience for these questions. If you're writing for your own pleasure, the answers are going to be very different from when you're writing for professional publication. It also helps to provide a sample of your writing, but don't just ask for generalized critique - identify a specific concern.
    • Questions about mechanics (grammar, diction, etc.) are probably more appropriate for English Language & Usage.
  • For other questions, consult the /help/on-topic page for each Stack and try to find the best fit.
  • For all of the above, your question should be carefully thought out, show your existing research efforts, and explain in detail the specific point where you are having trouble.
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I'm going to make a case for allowing limited writing questions on this site, and see how it stands. There are certain elements which are unique to scifi/fantasy. For instance, ways of magical creation. Methods for traveling the galaxy. Ways to terraform a planet. These and many more might just fit the bill, if we can only massage them a bit. But anything that is very generic to writing (Plot, characters, etc) should be sent off to the writers camp.

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    I agree, I think there is a gray area where discussing sci-fi meets writing. All Sci-fi springs from writing, understanding the writing process helps us to truly understand Sci-fi. – Mark Rogers Feb 18 '11 at 15:47
  • Actually... the Writers site actually has a of of fantasy and SF writers on it. However, is there a way that such questions could be posed ("what would you think of a book that [foo]") that would still be within the SE model? – neilfein Feb 18 '11 at 17:24
  • @neilfein do you know how questions like @pearsonartphoto suggests would be received on writers.se? If they are happy to have those there, and they are likely to get good answers, then I don't think we should fight over them. If they aren't well received there, then that's more of a case for having them here. – Tony Meyer Feb 18 '11 at 22:23
  • @Tony - I can't imagine why such questions wouldn't be well-received. – neilfein Feb 21 '11 at 18:24
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    Hi, I'm a Writers.SE mod. Here's the deal: Writers.SE helps with craft, not with content. "How should I write," not "What should I write." So "What SF methods of terraforming a planet are there?" is off-topic there (but on-topic here, since the question itself is valid even if stripped of the writing motivation). Whereas "How can I handle exposition of an alien race who don't see themselves as being strange and unusual?" is very SF-specific, but extremely well-suited to Writer.SE (and IMHO much less so to SF.SE). – Standback May 1 '12 at 7:26

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