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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Should dull dialogue be removed completely?

The following dialogue is from a novel I'm writing (first draft): "You're quiet tonight," Erin said to Benjamin, who seemed to be lost in thoughts. He looked up and took a sip of his drink. ...
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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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In what order should I describe a setting?

For instance I'm describing the park of an art museum in a foggy day. I'm not sure if I should start with the fog, wind, grass, threes, walking paths, buildings, stairs or something else. Is there a ...
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Where to draw the line between being descriptive and getting on with the story?

I have loved writing since early in high school and it has helped me tremendously, not only in my emotional well being, but also in music. I have started writing on a lot of things, which I wanted to ...
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How to show characters learning something in a non-boring way?

Okay so I want to write a fiction where a character is learning something, for example a language, such as Japanese. I want to show the entire process of learning the language with all the details ...
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Italicize part of a word in fiction?

I am wondering if I can or should take a bit of stylistic license and italicize just part of a word: He took a sharp turn back into a side street, and collided hard with something that sent him ...
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Examples for books that don't use (traditional) chapters? [closed]

I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett, and he doesn't use chapters (mostly). Are there any other authors who don't or tend to not use chapters?
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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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How can I work more efficiently when writing multiple pieces of fiction at the same time?

I'm working on multiple pieces of fiction at the same time, and finding it very difficult. When writing one piece at a time, I'm able to devote my passing time to thinking about the one subject I ...
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Can I use real presidents (past and present) and real companies in a fictional story?

I'm not sure if I want to use real people and companies or make up an entirely different world with different people, presidents, and companies than our real world. If I did the latter I would offer ...
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Variation in paragraph length

I've learned that variation in sentence length is good. How about paragraph length? I always end up with paragraphs like this: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam ...
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4answers
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Is it ok to be autobiographical with a main character?

This question really comes down to a personal issue I've had present in my fiction. I'm still very new as far as being a writer is concerned. So a few (if not all) of my main characters seem to be ...
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What is “head popping” and why is it bad?

Most of my writing experience has been with first person, nonfiction stories. Now I want to try some fiction. I'm working in third person, but I'm a little bit confused about how to pull something ...
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284 views

Should the Voice of the Author change with the Point-Of-View Character in a Non-Literary Fiction?

I have been writing an action/adventure novel and am having a tough time deciding whether the voice of the writer should undergo a slight/moderate but not a complete change with the point of view ...
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3answers
729 views

Can someone explain set pieces?

I was using a book in a writing group that talked about set pieces, but I never really got a clear idea of what it is or how they're supposed to appear in writing. My impression was that you have a ...
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1answer
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What are the poetry/quotes at the start of a chapter/book called?

For instance, "A Rasin in the Sun" starts with the poem "Harlem." I've noticed many (mostly contemporary) novels will start chapters with pieces of Poetry or quotes that are completely separate from ...
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2answers
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Should I create my own ConLang for my story?

For my story I'm writing some of the characters speak a different language from the protagonists. Should I actually create a ConLang (constructed language) for them and use it in dialog OR should ...
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2answers
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Has anyone tried “pair writing” before and been published?

Most of the time when two people write a book, one person is doing the majority of the writing and the other is critiquing or helping with the plot or providing technical information that the real ...
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Character details of male archetypes

In this link about character development, the author describes basic male archetypes that are found in a romance novel. http://www.likesbooks.com/eight.html My question is: although this is very ...
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Tracing dependencies and emergent plotholes during edits

The fiction I write currently hit a major snag and needs a big overhaul of a major part of the story. A whole, large thread is being injected, a second conflict running in parallel with the main one ...
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1answer
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Shared worlds: are there any good collaborative sites out there?

Writing is something that I have wanted to do for some time, and I know that I don't currently have the skill set to do more than putter. Are there any shared world story sites that exist? A ...
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1answer
236 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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How do I re-interest myself in a plot I am working on?

I've been working on my plot for almost a year now and every time I open my Excel sheet (yes,I know its odd to plot a novel in an Excel sheet but I find it's kind of a clean and clutter free ...
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Will my readers find it hard to care/identify with a character who seems to lack human emotions?

I'm writing my first novel. One of the main characters was born without a soul. This is her description, which also reflects her personality: She had long black hair, crimson red lips, and a ...
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“Thought” Verbs: A sign of weak writing or a stylistic choice?

According to Chuck Palahniuk you should avoid "Thought" verbs as much as you can. These include: knew, thought, realized, believed, etc. However, I've seen many of them in books that I read. And I ...
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Writing about extreme trauma

I've just written a chapter in which one of my protags witnesses her entire family massacred during an invasion of her home city. This is obviously an extremely traumatic and horrifying event, and in ...
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Slow openings: What is it about this Neil Gaiman opening that pulls the reader in?

I was blogging about opening lines the other day, and looking for examples. I came across the opening to American Gods, and realized that it's neither flashy nor something that will grab the reader in ...
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What are the pros and cons of building the setting before the characters and story

I have a science-fiction setting I have been kicking around for sometime, but I am not sure how to go about fleshing out events or characters that would make for stories within this setting. What are ...
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527 views

Can novels have twist endings?

Can a novel have a twist at the end? Sure, a short story can be well written towards a not-so-obvious twist, but a 200+ page novel...can yo sudden;y whip it around at the end and change the ending ...
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What are some disadvantages of writing fiction in a diary format?

I find writing in a diary-style is the easiest way to write fiction. The format is the same as a diary, with each entry beginning with the date, then describing the feelings or events of the character ...
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Any suggestions to improve these three introductory paragraphs of a novel I'm writing (e.g. writing style, description and flow)?

These are the paragraphs: Someone had called me at half past eleven. The phone rang six times breaking the silence and darkness of the room for about ten or twelve seconds. I didn’t pick up. ...
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Using “and/or” in a manuscript

I've used "and/or" in my writings in the past, but not for fiction manuscripts. Is it acceptable to use this? It's internal narration in a character's head and intended to have a bit of morbid humor ...
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When mentioning two items in a sentence, should I specify which one I'm referring to in the next one?

This is a bit complicated to explain. Here's an example: She had green eyes and extremely curly hair. It looked like a cluster of ferns in a mountain forest. OK, that was an awful metaphor, ...
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1answer
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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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Deciding the setting: real or invented?

I'm preparing some material because I have the intention of writing a book. I'd do this in every type of work, but considering that I'm writing Crime Fiction, this is even more important. I've ...
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What is the name of the genre of stories with multiple realities?

The movie "Sucker Punch" and the "Once Upon a time" series make it hard to distinguish what state of reality is the "real" one (not that it matters). In "Fixing the Shadow" we encountered a character ...
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What is the recomended word-count for a fantasy-fiction book?

By recommended I mean what is the standard for it to be not too long and not too short. I know I should write until I am finished but I want to take practicality into account as well. Mainly when the ...
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Pros ans cons of writing a plot based on the present and past tense (character's point of view)?

I'm not sure if I should write my first book in the present or past tense. The book is about a doctor in a clinic who is analysing his patients. e.g. I said, VS I say. I thought for a while ...
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755 views

Using a foreign language that uses a different written alphabet

What is the best way to incorporate a different language that uses another alphabet into a fiction manuscript? I am trying to use Russian in an English manuscript, but I don't know if I should use the ...
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It is a sign of bad writing to have many scenes that are disconnected with the main plot?

So my novel look like this (I took this diagram idea from this site, but I'm not sure exactly from whom): The beginning and end focuses on the mystery that the heroine is trying to solve (main ...
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How should I use phrases such as “uh huh”?

I have seen various combinations of interjections (or "grunt words", as they are sometimes called) used in fictional dialogue, such as: uh huh (which I take for a yes) uh uh (for no) nuh uh (also saw ...
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What is the Priority in an Action/Adventure Novel: Dialogues or Conflict?

I am currently working on a novel and I was having some trouble finding the best solution for this question. I understand that both dialogues and conflicts are needed in a good proportion to cook a ...
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271 views

How to write realistic injury scenes?

I'm currently writing an apocalypse themed story - and with the territory, death and/or injuries happen. I'm wondering how other writers write these scenes realistically as far as science, medicine ...
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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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160 views

How much should I reveal of how the world functions in fiction?

I am currently working on a fiction novel. The way the world (magic, technology, government, species etc) works is extremely complicated. Basically, the idea is to reveal the mechanics bit by bit . ...
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2answers
177 views

How do you reference pop culture in a dialogue without proper attribution?

I'm not sure exactly how to ask this question in a vacuum so I'll give an example first: Many people are familiar with the Mitch Hedberg joke about an escalator being "temporarily stairs" rather than ...
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How can I write a tragedy for children?

In direction of one of the most famous stories of Hans Christian Andersen "The Little Match Girl", I want to write a tragedy for children; a story dealing with children who are suffering and who may ...
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Basing fiction on personal life

I had in mind to use threads from my own life as a foundation for work, keeping much of the incidents, traits and all, but building upon them in a potentially different direction. What are the ...
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Do the characters in the following dialogue sound the same?

The following unedited dialogue is from a novel I'm writing (which is based on a short story I wrote a while ago): "I hope it's not an inappropriate question," Icaro said, after hesitating for a ...
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The backstory's overwhelming the actual story

I have a character with a grim past (forced to watch torture). I need him to have that grim past in order to explain his behaviour in the story I am writing now: characters who did not know his past ...