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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Is it better to describe the main character's physical appearance early on in the story?

I'm writing a novel, and I just realized I don't describe be main character's appearance until Chapter 3 (each chapter is 1500~2000 words long and there are 25 chapters in total). I do mention that ...
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What does being “heavy handed” mean? And how does one avoid it?

I've come across the term "heavy handed" before, and it seems to be one of the more egregious mistakes that one can make while writing - at least that's the impression I get from critics. What does ...
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Will my readers feel like they are reading a children's storybook if there are illustrations in my novel?

I'm writing a novel. I also have good drawing skills. I would like to add illustrations of the setting, locations and characters. I may include 8 or 10 illustrations (the novel is approximately 200 ...
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Is it strange to describe the narrator's facial expressions in a first-person narrative?

Examples: “Really?” I said, widening my eyes. "What?" My eyes lifted and I raised my brows in shock. I think this reads strange because the narrator can't see his or her own face (or wasn't ...
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How to develop a story for a novel?

I am looking for some inspiration on where to start writing a novel. I have a general idea for a plot and characters, but I don't feel it's enough for sitting down and starting to write. It needs a ...
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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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Balancing loads of equally-important characters

If you have a dozen good guys, but four of them are the protagonists and the other six are more in the background, it's not that hard to skew the pagetime of each character towards those that are more ...
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How to start writing a book?

I'm new to writing and I'm still young (preteen young). I want some advice on writing and help. How am I gonna start my book? What is the best way to begin writing a book?
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World Building vs Story Writing

Note, this might be off topic and belong on World Building SE? I have always been far more interested with building the world my stories take place in than the stories themselves. I will spend large ...
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Fictional diary for a novel

When it is appropriate to use the diary form for a novel? Which are the most effective published examples? (I mean fictional diaries, so not Anne Frank's diary).
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How do I decide if writing expository scenes that won't be in my finished novel is useful, or procrastination?

I tend to burn out developing my stories before they even reach the page, so I'm taking some advice to pants a novel. I didn't quite follow the advice to the letter; I used an idea that had been ...
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How does one include sign language in a dialogue?

If one character is using sign language and lip reading while the other is speaking normally, how do you represent the lines of the former? Quotations with "he signed" attribution or italics? E.g. ...
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How to share the work, if writing fiction in a team?

How should one split up the work between two people? Should one write the even-numbered chapters and the other the odd-numbered? Does each person tell the story from the point of view of a different ...
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How deeply should I study the background of a community before writing about it?

By "background", I mean the dialects, habits and culture of the community. Also, I wonder if it is even possible to write about a community without being a part of it? I am only asking this in terms ...
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What to do if I can't meet my chapter word count?

I usually set a word count goal for each of my chapters, say 2000 words. But sometimes I can't meet that goal, for any number of reasons. What should I do: A. Continue anyway, and hope to increase ...
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How to handle foreign military ranks?

Suppose you have a character who has a rank in a foreign military - say, Feldwebel Hans. That's the equivalent of a Sergeant. On one hand, having people call him "Herr Feldwebel" gives some flavor ...
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Jumping on the Zombie bandwagon

Is it too late to jump on the zombie bandwagon? There are loads of stories about the possible popular outcome of an apocalypse, is it possible to squeeze anything more out of it? Or, maybe it would ...
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Out of this world… Giving it time?

I am starting to write a fantasy story. For the first time, i am using computer software to help organize my story. The program confronted me with a question. What is the birthday of a character? ...
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How do I successfully structure a long fiction piece?

I’ve ‘completed’ three novels – a thriller, a coming-of-age story, and a mystery. I’ve had expert readers for all three including Sue Grafton who read two of them. All the expert readers have the same ...
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Use of past vs. present tense in works of fiction

I have recently picked up several works of fiction and begun to read them. I have found that some are written using past tense while others use the present tense. What is the significance of using ...
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Will science fiction as a genre ever go the way of the western?

It is a fairly undisputed fact that the genre of western fiction has had a declining audience for decades. The Western Writers Association still exists, but if I had never worked in a Border ...
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Using poetry in novels a good option?

I write fiction as well as poetry. And many a times I use poetry as a tool to bring out that acute feeling of pain or love (as required) in my explanations. What if I use poetry to introduce or end a ...
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An engineering student wants to write fiction, where to start?

I'm a computer engineering student, programmer, avid book lover and have a very vivid (some would say "screwed up") mind. I recently thought up an idea for a very cool short/medium story. It's like a ...
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Writing about drug induced hallucinations and paranoia

Not long ago I wrote a short story about a mathematics graduate student on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The young student is innocent and working to finish a difficult mathematical derivation ...
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What is a good methodology for researching a historical novel?

I'm having difficulty with the research aspect of my historical novel. This question was originally going to be "how much research should one do to write a historical novel?" to which, answering my ...
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Writing from the middle

My biggest problem as a writer is that I always get inspired and then start writing from the middle, in particular scenes or moments which I think will be crucial. Climaxes. These scenes turn out ...
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What to do with my odd-length work?

I've just about finished up the first draft of a piece of work I've put a good deal of love into. It's genre fiction (paranormal/supernatural horror/urban fantasy/whatever they're calling it this ...
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How can I create drama in a story that is mostly political and procedural?

I'm writing a fantasy story about whether a teacher should be fired or not over teaching competency; most of the story revolves around the politics and the procedural process of the decision. So much ...
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How can you submit your writings internationally?

I live in Argentina, and I've always wondered if (given the case of having something worthy) I'd be able to submit it to publishers in, for example, the USA. Of course the writing would be in English. ...
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Coming up with names for species in fiction?

When you are writing a story that is set in a fantasy world (maybe our world with just one made-up element, or a completely different world), what is a good way to come up with names for species that ...
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What are some examples of modern original plots?

In a comment on this answer, a valuable community contributor suggested that it is possible to be totally original in writing, despite the fact that other valuable community members have stated that ...
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How to deal with a story that 95% of it takes place in a different language country and the protagonist speaks in it?

The protagonist is from a country, and then in a certain stage of the story he moves to another that speaks another language. The protagonist learns their language and talks with them in it. Movies ...
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How to avoid repetitive sentence structure?

I've realized that I always start sentences with (name of character), he, she, it, they, her, his, the, after (a moment/that), and then. I wonder if there's any useful exercise or tip to reduce this? ...
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What to do if I end up confused by my own plot because of 'trying to be original' or 'trying to make the story more deep'?

Sometimes, I find myself in the dilemma that I come out with a plot that tells exactly what I want to say. But then, I try to modify it in order to make it more original (at least, less similar than ...
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Has this dialogue enough suspense to engage the reader?

I still have to make some grammar and writing corrections but I would like to know if this dialogue Has this has enough suspense to engage the reader (so that he or she wants to read more)? “Excuse ...
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Is there any hope of a fictional short story being published?

I mean under 100k, probably less than 50k because it's a short story. Actually, I'm not sure how many words a short story has so I have two questions. How short is a short story and is it worth the ...
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Is going 'off-topic' a sign of bad dialogue?

I always wondered if going off-topic in a dialogue is a bad or a normal thing. For example, let's say I'm writing a novel where the main theme is love and loss. Is it bad if the characters start ...
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Are there good tips on being a better *creative* writer?

I'm a student at Case, and while we of course have an English department, it seems the only kind of writing classes/courses available are for learning to be either a "literary" writer, or a ...
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Is it a bad practice to occasionally add first-person narrative to third-person narrative?

This is a sample of something I wrote: Erin watched Ruth as she disappeared between the cars and the multitude of people crossing the street. She stood there for a moment, staring at the city ...
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How to give the readers breathing space, without putting them to sleep?

I remember reading somewhere that while plots should have tension, too much tension will tire the readers out, so there should be some breathing place, where the reader can get a chance to catch their ...
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Critique: Intro/Prologue to my Novel-in-Progress

all. Please forgive me, for I'm afraid I'm a novice when it comes to writing fiction. I wanted to get the community's thoughts and recommendations for improving the below passage. I realize it ...
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Variation in humor among ethnic/cultural groups

Back when Bill Clinton was President of the United States, Al Franken (formerly a Saturday Night Live comedian, now a US Senator) gave him lessons in comedy. He needed these lessons because the press ...
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Is it okay to end a novel with a cliffhanger?

First thing you should know: I'm writing the first book in a trilogy and I'm at that beautiful moment where I'm ending it. I know exactly how I want to end it BUT there's one problem. I've been ...
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“multiple personalities” for character development in writing?

How can I train myself to think in "multiple personalities" so I can use these personalities for character development in writing?
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Third-person objective in action scene

I'm telling a story in third-person objective, the first part being basically an objective description of events around a certain character. I got to a brief action scene, and it fell flat. What the ...
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Killing off a character: deciding if, when and how

Killing off a character is a serious issue. Secondary characters or even extras can pass away without too much negative response from the readers but main characters are a whole different matter. It ...
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Will using real-world cultural vocabulary in a fantasy setting disengage readers?

If I have certain minor rituals/garments/culture tidbits in a fantasy setting that mirror those of Earth, and I describe them using the real-world vocabulary, will that disengage readers from the ...
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Is it plausible to get a contract with an US/UK publisher as a foreigner?

Looking for some insight in the publishing industry. Is it even remotely plausible to get published in with an English-language publishing house (UK/US), when you're not a national nor a resident of ...
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A cross-[What] kind of romance?

In the scientific taxonomy of Living Things, you have: Life Domain Kingdom Phylum Class etc. down to Species, and maybe thence to Breed. If I were talking about my neighbor's dog who is half ...
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How to identify a scene type?

What are the main types in which a scene can be classified, and what are the key concepts for each type? I am thinking something along the following (guessing the descriptions): suspense - scene ...