Fiction is a form of prose writing that deals with at least partly artificial or imagined events and characters. This tag should be used for any questions relating to fiction, including fiction formatting and technique, fiction critiques, and the publishing of fiction.

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What are some strategies for surprising the reader?

I'm writing an action scene and I'd like for the POV and the readers to realize something at around the same time. Specifically, why another character is physically stuck and unable to escape an ...
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2answers
125 views

How do you know if you have too many words for the amount of pages you have written?

I'm writing my first serious novel and I have 155 pages with 60,000 words. I'm wondering whether this is normal. I still want to write at least another 100 pages or more, but I don't want to write too ...
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4answers
474 views

How to avoid hearing “that's me!” from your friends when they read your characters?

I recently asked about getting inside of someone else's head for writing good characters who are noticeably different from myself and received some great answers. One answer suggested that you should ...
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2answers
74 views

Tactician's Viewpoint and Contradictory Characterization

I have a character who's supposed to be a talented tactician. Because of the setup of the story, this character is contrasted with another character by means of giving them contradictory or ...
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4answers
142 views

Is there a complete guideline for which tense to use?

There are questions here about specific use of tenses, but I wonder if there is a more complete guide on what tense to use when? For a fictional novel, Past Tense is the accepted choice. But which ...
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5answers
733 views

How do you make a story succeed in spite of an unsympathetic main character?

I'm looking for techniques specific to a story with an unsympathetic main character. Confederacy of Dunces, for example. Why does that work, and why wouldn't that work with a likable hero?
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5answers
336 views

How can we have foreshadowing in a story that takes place in a universe where the future can't be known beforehand?

In a (non-comedic) story where the philosophical implications of the existence of any way of predicting the future (except by accident) happen to be unacceptable or incompatible with the laws or the ...
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6answers
247 views

How to deal with common Earth references in a non-Earth setting?

Until now, I have mostly written in settings similar enough to Earth, mostly with human beings. For the first time, I am writing a short story set on a different planet, where the protagonists are not ...
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4answers
217 views

Fiction Novels & Active vs. Passive Voice

Before I launch into this, I've perused these threads and they don't quite answer the specific question I have in mind: When to keep the passive voice and when to remove it When *should* I use ...
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4answers
103 views

Methods for writing from an alternate gender/age/cultural viewpoint?

While many aspects of a culture, etc, can be researched - there are intrinsic difficulties to writing from the PoV of a woman as a male author and vice versa, and I'd argue even harder for an adult to ...
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2answers
116 views

Is it a bad writing practice to end a paragraph with question?

I'm not sure where I picked up this habit. Here are two examples: I pictured An-Mei’s slim fingers running across their smooth surface, her hand, and then the body connected to it. But try as I ...
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2answers
237 views

Parenthesis Types in Fiction

What's the general approach to using parenthesis (the grammatical construct, not the punctuation mark) in fiction? I have an internal "ranking" of them: Comma-delineated parenthesis, like this, is ...
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3answers
53 views

Delaying narrative/actions

I tend do this a lot: A straight curve appeared after a moment. I slowed my pace and circled around. Once I came out of it, I caught sight of something. It was a girl. Probably a sixteen ...
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3answers
105 views

Am I using too many adjectives/adverbs in the following piece?

As I made my way uphill, I understood why An-Mei chose this place for her spiritual healing. I glanced around. Gorgeous conifers stretched up endlessly, like pillars connecting the earth with ...
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3answers
101 views

What concrete steps do you take to write for a specific reading level?

People throw around reading levels when it comes to writing: "5th grade level," "10th grade level," "college level," etc. What concrete steps do you take to write for a specific reading level? Is ...
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1answer
169 views

Legal effect of standard fiction disclaimer

Does the standard fiction disclaimer (... any resemblance to persons living or dead...) have any legal effect? I am most interested in citations of reasonably authoritative legal opinions. Especially ...
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1answer
47 views

Flashbacks as chapters ordered (almost) chronologically

I just finished the first draft of my novel. From my previous question: Sushi Break A story about a girl who travels 3 hours every weekend to see her boyfriend (the boyfriend is doing an ...
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2answers
112 views

How can I create better suspense in this passage?

How can I create suspense in this writing? The Enigmax Stars… I look at them, dream of them… They are so close, and yet, so far… They sparkle like tiny fireflies on the dark canvas of ...
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1answer
149 views

How to make the first lines of my novel attractive and hooking?

I am currently writing a FICTION-FANTASY-HORROR novel, and I have only written some pages. I have published the first part of the novel especially for this question. How can I make my first lines ...
6
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1answer
323 views

How to show that something is different than in real life?

I'm writing fiction set in the near future (~15-20 years). The world is still mostly the same and thus familiar to the reader, but an important part of the story is that a few things are radically ...
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3answers
156 views

3 short stories that can be turned into a novel. Should I pick the one with best reviews?

I wrote 3 short stories a long time ago, and I realized there's still room to expand them. Recently I made the decision to write a novel with the purpose of starting a writing career. So my plan is to ...
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1answer
60 views

Creating Dialogue [closed]

So I've decided to become an Author. Frankly I have respect for the learning curve. My biggest problem that I have run into thus far is the conversations between characters. So I would like to ask ...
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3answers
127 views

Is it OK to have two different POVs in a same paragraph (third-person omniscient narrator)?

This is my first time writing a third-person omniscient narrator. And just got stucked in a dilemma. This is the opening of the story: Once again Kuo found himself standing face to face with ...
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2answers
108 views

Do the following scenes feel like flashbacks?

I wrote a short story. One recurring critique is that the flashbacks don't feel like flashbacks, so the readers get confused. The story is about a man who hears a piano next door. Nothing ...
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2answers
100 views

Learning to write flash fiction first?

I was wondering if it would be unwise to get a very solid foundation in writing by starting with flash fiction, then working my way up to larger works. I suppose I'm being naive in a sense, because ...
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2answers
53 views

How does the placement of transition sentences affects the meaning/tone of a piece?

Example: Finally, I began questioning the kid. What was her name? Where were her parents? And most important, what was she doing outside in this horrible weather? She replied to none of that. ...
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1answer
215 views

Alternative word for “she”

I am writing about a female person. I noticed most of my sentences start with "she". Is there a way to avoid using this pronoun too many times, and use an alternative word instead? I have tried ...
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3answers
126 views

If not in the prologue/intro, where would a hook be?

For many stories I have seen, written or otherwise, a fight or some intimate moment is used to hook the reader. It is done A LOT, if not every time. Does a hook have to be in the beginning? Are ...
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5answers
214 views

How to introduce a world that's alien to the reader

I'm writing sort of a space-opera and I was wondering what would the best way to explain everthing about the world to my readers. The story is kind of a political intrigue, and it would be very easy ...
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2answers
83 views

X and Y vs Y and X

This always confuses me. Example: Louise and Jizanthapus were sitting on the floor of her room. Louise is the main character, so I assume she should go first? Or should I put her after ...
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1answer
67 views

Listing items in fiction

What sort of criteria should I consider when listing items in fiction? For example: He was wearing a knit cap, a flower-patterned shirt, and faded jeans. I ordered the items from top to bottom. ...
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2answers
63 views

Asking questions in the middle of a narrative

I'm writing a short story. And I realized the opening is filled with question marks: Ming was disturbed by the faint sound of a piano. He put down his guitar tuner and glanced at the clock. ...
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2answers
100 views

What should take precedence? Rhythm or clarity?

We resumed our way, until we finally exited the woods and reached a valley. Two ridges stood on both sides, meeting together on the far horizon. In the middle was a river, its quiet surface ...
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1answer
110 views

Open Source Publishing?

If an author is not concerned about making money from her story, but rather would like to publish the story to protect the story from copy right yet allow others to read and review the story for ...
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1answer
109 views

Does the narrator sound childish?

I really apologize, this is something that just came to my mind (and while sitting on the toilet). There's no editing. The reason is, I'll remove the whole passage if the protagonist sounds childish. ...
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3answers
283 views

Starting a novel with internal dialogue?

What are your thoughts about having the first sentence in a novel be internal dialogue? What are the potential problems this could raise? what are the benefits? By internal dialogue i mean something ...
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1answer
88 views

I need advice regarding the use of real-world locations in a novel

I've written a crime novel, which is on its final draft before seeking publication now. The novel is set in my hometown. A major "set piece" scene is set in a real location, a business, which I would ...
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2answers
111 views

What are the Criteria that Distinguish a Thriller from Horror?

The criteria that come to mind are not exclusive to horror novels, so I'm a little confused and annoyed (annoyed because I find horror novels scary, and yet just cannot define it logically when I try ...
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79 views

How to travel in a government restricted setting? [closed]

So my fantasy story starts out with two characters travelling by foot through endless woods. They can't take the roads because of an oppressive like government, but the woods are apparently safe. But ...
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2answers
378 views

What exactly do I do to get published?

I'm interested to know what the publishing process exactly entails for future reference. I'm in my last year of school and I recently finished my first substantial piece of creative writing (a subject ...
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2answers
137 views

Do novels that are set in not-so-famous countries sell less?

By not-so-famous countries I mean those you don't usually find in novels, movies, TV, magazines, etc. One example is Chile (the place I was born). I'm not sure about America/Europe but if you go to ...
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1answer
855 views

How to effectively jump from one period of time to another in a short story?

This is the first time I'm writing something that jumps from one period of time to another in a short story: The field was vast and empty, like a green abandoned planet. Icaro and Maru were ...
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4answers
361 views

How to achieve a dark and nostalgic feeling/setting in a novel?

I don't want to scare the reader, but I would like to produce a dark and nostalgic feeling. Pretty much the feeling that gives you this video (both image and music). The setting of my novel is a ...
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2answers
107 views

“Where did X go?” vs “where had X gone.”

Which one should be used for a story written in the past tense? Example: But just as I was about to consider that possibility, I spotted something: a blood-stained feather. It was caught between ...
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2answers
56 views

Should I omit the “at first”s in the following pieces?

I discovered I tend to use "at first" a lot: We were reminiscing about our past relationships, and Mrs. Kondo asked Akiko about her first love (she'd only had two in her life: me and her high ...
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3answers
309 views

Is there a known technique for giving your readers chills?

Some of my favorite stories send shivers through my body every time I reread them. For example, "Bullet in the Brain" by Tobias Wolff, "The Third and Final Continent" by Jhumpa Lahiri, and the end of ...
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1answer
52 views

Is the following repetition unnecessary?

I peered through the glass. It was a bird. At first I thought it was a crow because of its black feathers; they were so black they shone in the moonlight like a pair of sword blades. ...
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4answers
486 views

Using “he/she” instead of “it” for animals

I'm writing a short story. The main character is visited by a strange black bird during the night (first draft): I glanced around but there was no sign of the bird. I didn't spot it in any ...
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3answers
134 views

Is the following passage confusing?

They following is from a short story I'm writing. The main character and his friend are sitting in a bar while discussing about the the former's wife: “I see,” he said, thinking this over, as if ...
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3answers
170 views

I feel my protagonist is too “detached” from the main plot. What should I do?

Here's a summary of the plot: The main character goes to a mountain to visit his half-sister. He hasn't seen her in years. She went there to undergo a spiritual healing. Later he discovers her ...