I'll begin with a disclaimer...I hesitate to offer anything that is crowned with the mantle of "experience", because thus far, outside of a small range of advocacy article, my lone experience has been to try, fail, and learn. Then again, I restrained myself from what I really wanted to do with my life for two decades because I thought, "What right do I have to think anyone would want to read what I have to say?" But I am prompted, here, by two things: 1) the desire to see what I think is a really good idea - a forum for advice on a wide range of topics from those who have been whaling away for an appreciable amount of time and 2) a recent discussion in which I was taken to task by a member I happen to respect a lot. There is no dearth of threads asking for help. I break these down into three categories: 1) lazy requests, 2) fearful requests, 3) legitimate requests. "Lazy" requests are those that are made in lieu of doing a little digging. "What would be a good setting for a town on the edge of a jungle?" "What are some examples of slave economies?" "What happens to someone when a piano falls on their head?" Not only could they be answered by a little aggressive research, the process of doing the research, but the process of doing the research would be an educational experience, in many cases leading to the serendipitous discovery of other useful information. A little time spent could yield great results. Why leave it to forum responses? "Fearful" questions are those that are likely driven by a lack of confidence in one's own creative ability. "I want to write a story about a world where humans are subjects and super-intelligent machines rule. How would I do that?" as I said recently in a nearby thread, this is the type of thing a writer cannot and should not be helped on. Why? As writers, there are rules of SPaG that we must follow. There are submission guidelines we must follow (if we want to be traditionally published). There are certain pathways to telling a story that only pure genius can violate. But the one thing that every writer owns, exclusive from all others, is our ability to create a world, characters and a story and blend them all together. To accomplish this, we draw on everything we know and are - what we've learned, what we've experienced, what we've felt. No one else can substitute for us on this, because then it becomes their creation, not ours. A question I put to another member on the nearby thread was: at what point do you stop asking? In other words, at what point do you take responsibility for your own writing? So, what are legitimate questions? They are legion! Anything about the craft of writing itself - methods of exposition, use of setting, how great writers create characters, POV, voice, what constitutes a scene; anything and everything that has ever been published, and what it meant; the internal logic of a scene or plot. I don't say this because I don't want to help new writers. I say it because I do, because just like someone else can't learn all the scales for a new musician, can't do the cardio work for an aspiring athlete, can't study for someone else for the bar exam, there are some things that an aspiring writer has to do for him/herself. And I hope the advice will be taken with that in mind.