I see we've got a tag synonym where a question is mapped directly to . I'm not sure these are the same thing - frankly, I'm not 100% certain what either tag's scope is.

Do we need both these tags? Is this a good tag synonym? What's the scope of either one of these tags, or both?

  • Good question. I think these are the same thing, but I'm interested in hearing what others think about this. Did I set up that synonym? – Goodbye Stack Exchange Jun 3 '12 at 19:18

The difference may be subtle. Let's choose character development as example:

You can plan your characters. You can develop your characters.

A character cannot plan, but a character can develop.

Planning is the phase you do up-front. Developing continues over the whole project. You can plan your character to be Marlon Brando, but then while writing he develops to be Clint Eastwood.

Planning is easy and undisturbed. Development can be chaotic if nothing goes as you've planned it. Development may need to be controlled (you really want Marlon) or be enjoyed as creative process (Clint fits so much better to the story).

Now, do we need two tags to differentiate that? Are people aware of that when asking questions? Does it really matter? I don't think so.

  • I agree with both your distinction and your conclusion. Since the difference does exist, which of the tags should we keep? Is there a phrase that encapsulates both concepts? Or should we keep both tags as synonyms? – Standback Jun 5 '12 at 11:51
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    @Standback: both tags as synonyms sounds good to me even though they are no real synonyms. Maybe the (existing) differentiation can be made clear in the tag summary and that we use them as synonyms nonetheless. – John Smithers Jun 5 '12 at 13:36

John, I think you differentiate between them very well, and they are not at all the same thing.

Planning is before you start writing, and could cover questions like "What kinds of techniques do you use to create a character?" or "How much work do you have to do on a character if you're a pants writer?"

Development is as the story is unfolding, and covers things like "What does my character have to suffer to bring him from stone-faced killer to sobbing over a kitten with a cold?" and "My sheltered nun is turning into a raging vengeance machine. How do I make this believable?"

Keep the tags separate.

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    They are not the same thing, true. But using it as a tag, it would be helpful if the differentiation is apparent. And it isn't in this case. Yes, you can retag all the wrong ones (and I guess most will use both, because both things are related even when they are different). Would it really be a problem putting these questions under the same tag? I have to admit that I do not look at tags at Writers.SE at all. On SO I use them to filter questions (only interested in a few programming languages). But filtering "development" and "planning", I do not see the point. – John Smithers Jun 4 '12 at 14:03

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