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 useful resources for a beginner whose eventual goal is to write a novel? [closed]

I am new to creative writing but have been an avid reader for years (mainly SF/fantasy). I have wanted to write fantasy stories for a long time and have recently started to build a setting for them in ...
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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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Opening a story with a reference to what someone just said followed by a setting description

An example: Naomi's words hung in the air as I gazed out of the hotel window. The mountain lay quietly in the dark, like a calm, sleeping giant. A cluster of city lights glittered beyond. In ...
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How to explain a war scene?

In my novel, I have a part where there is a war scene, and I need to explain it precisely from the king's point of view. How can I explain the war graphics vividly?
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When to be specific and when to let context fill in the holes?

Some examples: Half-crouching, I went over to the railing and pointed my flashlight down (to the ground). It was approximately a two-storey fall. Not incredibly high, but high enough to kill a ...
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What is the difference between “creative writing” and “fiction writing”?

My college offers many writing courses. I notice, one course is called "Creative Writing" and another is called "Fiction Writing". What is the difference between creative writing and fiction writing?
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How to keep the reader engaged in a novel where “not much happens”?

(Hope I don't get an answer like this). I'm writing a novel where "not much happens," instead, it focuses on things that could happen. In other words, the protagonist does not directly experience ...
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I suck at plots. Is there a way to sort of train oneself to think of creative plots, specifically in scifi?

I'm pretty good in the writing department as far as prose, it's just that I'll sit down and have no idea what to write. Perhaps it's a creative problem, I just don't know. I cannot figure out any ...
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How can I improve this description which includes actions?

This is the beginning of a short story I'm writing (I'm not a native English speaker): I was lying in the dark, looking at the ceiling, counting spider webs. She was lying right beside me. I ...
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Style of writing as told from the point of view of the main character

What would be a good style for writing a story from one point of view while keeping the narration interesting? I mean you can't go into too much detail as what a person does during the day is fine for ...
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Simplicity is fundamental in design. How about in writing a novel?

I'm a web designer. The first rule in design is KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). How about writing a novel? Is simplicity fundamental or just an option?
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How to avoid formulaic fictional structures while still using tried and tested techniques?

There are several books that provide an excellent breakdown of the elements that make a good story or script. For example, The Writer's Journey by Christopher Volger identifies common archtypes and ...
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Putting a dialogue a tag before a quote

Sometimes I see stuff like this: X said, "..." "..." X did this, and then said, "..." Is it used to just vary sentence structure? Or to make dialogue more readable or smoother in certain ...
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Is it necessary to add a.m./p.m. after the time?

Examples: To make sure we had plenty of time to ask questions, we took the first bus to Mrs. Mann's house. By the time we arrived it was 11:00 a.m. Seven hours before the planet apocalypse. ...
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Should I write about how the character solved some riddle or let the reader solve it himself

"Reaching an end to his path, Eric found a locked door, the lock was a combination of 4 numbers, and above the doorknob a script explaining the lock : 'finishing four circles, a lost day is found' " ...
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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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Are these fictional musings convincing or overwrought?

I've been working for some time on a story about a detective who finds himself alienated, delusional and hopeless while trapped inside a dystopic, postmodern dream. This segment voices some of the ...
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Does this paragraph make you want to keep reading?

Can you remember the last toy you ever bought? We do. Here at the St. Abattoir, London's largest toy store, your childhood is our business. We think of ourselves not as merely customer ...
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Simple rules for separating paragraphs in books?

I'm writing a fiction book and noticed that my paragraphs seemed excessively long, most having three or more sentences in them. The Online Writing Lab's page "On Paragraphs" is helpful, but as a new ...
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How to handle a character when she is lying about her name

I am in the midst of writing my second NaNo novel, and I have encountered a problem I didn't anticipate. It is similar to this question, about changing a character's name in the middle of a story, but ...
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Fiction writing book recommendation for a 10-year old

My 10 year old niece enjoys writing fiction and writes very well for her age. I would love to encourage her love of writing. Can anyone recommend a good fiction writing book that is accessible to a ...
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Should I specify the time/date at the beginning of a scene?

Example: That's when the thought hit me: I had to find out. I had to solve this mystery. And so, I decided to call off my suicide plan. At least for the time being. (Next chapter) ...
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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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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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Commas at the beginning of a sentence: should I follow convention or intuition?

An example from my own writing (Mother and daughter are burying their deceased dog): As planned that Friday, Mom and I underwent Choco’s burial at my home in __ (yes, she kept him in a garbage ...
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Is it a bad idea to use a culture-specific word in the title of a story?

I wrote a short story long ago called The End of the World. I thought the title was too common so I renamed it to The Kid with the Gigaku Mask and the End of the World. But then, I found that title to ...
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Should a flashback be in past tense or past perfect?

Assuming the story itself is in past tense, normally when I go further into the past I'd use past perfect: He had first met her at the grocery store, six months prior. However, which is more ...
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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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Is my writing 'disjointed', and if so how can I fix it?

First page of my fantasy novel. I'm told my writing is disjointed and jerky, but have no idea in what way! And it's driving me crazy that I don't know where the holes in my boat are so I can't really ...
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Dream analysis research

I am currently writing a short story/novella. This piece of fiction describes a child who has vivid dreams. His dreamworld starts to blend with the real world by him being able to manipulate his ...
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When to use the em dash (—) in fiction writing?

I always see the em dash (—) in fiction writing. Here are some example from Haruki Murakami's After Dark: Komugi comes in and takes something from one of the cartons piled against the wall—a ...
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Does this writing create emotion in the reader?

The thing I hear most often about my writing is, "It's too dry." I'm sure this happens to other people too. I'm working on eliciting emotion through writing, and I'd like a critique on some of my ...
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Use of present-tense for memory-related shenanigans in a past-tense story

I'm writing a story in past tense, in first person. The character is discussing the vagaries of his memory of events in the further past. "I remembered" seems to have the wrong connotation here - he ...
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When to use the character's name and when to use she/he?

This is the first short story where I'm using actual names for the characters. Here is a sample: "Sorry for the question," Jun said. "But why don' you have friends?" Ling glanced at him, then ...
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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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Is replacing “this” with “a” allowed in fiction?

Example: "Exploding whales?" My date stared at me as if I had given him some bad news. He'd taken me to this fancy Italian restaurant. "That's what your thesis is about?" I'm not sure why, ...
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Is it unnecessary to mention that there is a silence in the following cases?

I tend to write stuff like this a lot: (dialogue) They remained silent for a while. “Where is my mind” by Pixies was now playing in the background. Eri stared at her palm beneath the ...
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Is it better to have a deadline?

A lot of writers I admire say: "I didn't know how long the story would be." Me too, I'm the kind of writer who don't know where (and when) the story is going to end. So I'm confused—is it better to ...
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Writing a novel which has the same structure and a particular theme in each chapter

I'm writing a novel that will have 9 chapters. Most of the chapters have the same structure: The main character goes down a hole she found in her room. She finds herself in a strange part of the ...
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What genre is a book in an imaginary world but no other fantasy element?

I'm trying to figure out what genre the following is, if any. (I asked a similar question, but this is different now, and more detailed.) The story takes place in an imaginary world. It's more or ...
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What techniques can be used to describe a character's terror?

I'm trying to write a stressful situation for a character (specifically she's about to be injured) and I'm trying to convey her terror at the situation. My usual trick is to use short snappy ...
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Background speech with foreground dialogue

A few days ago, I stumbled upon an issue of the type; meaning I had two characters talking between themselves and another character talking in the background; actually delivering a speech. What the ...
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Is it safe to write about a fictional murder in a real-life location?

I am writing a novel, and part of the plot has one character killing another in a specific real-life location. I mean the setting is extremely specific - for example, a particular hotel, or one ...
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Effect of real world brands and/or places on story tone

This is based on that question, but from a tone point of view. Let's say I have a story taking place in a near-future version of Boston, characters are meeting for coffee. I have no issue saying ...
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My Hero is captured, now what?

I'm trying to write an escape scene in a fantasy novel. My problem is that I've spent a fair amount of effort explaining what a dire predicament my hero is in, and now I don't know how to get him out. ...
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Is it possible that my short novel will be boring to my readers because it only has two characters and the location doesn't change?

In my story, there are two characters: a schoolgirl and a strange person with a creepy mask who gives her a tour in an art museum at night. Well, actually there is a third character; the boyfriend of ...
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Can a likeable character be unsympathetic?

I believe an unlikable character can be sympathetic, although that's tricky. But can you go the other way? Can your character be likable but at the same time unsympathetic? I've been trying and ...
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Tension built upon whether the main character will commit suicide or not. Problem: I'm using first person narrative

I'm writing a novel, called Animal Suicide, about a girl who tried to commit suicide but then postponed the plan after a phone call she received. Everything OK. But then I realized...wait a ...
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Should I use ellipses or em dashes to denote pauses in speech?

I flipped open its latch and peered inside. A—gold tooth? I flipped open its latch and peered inside. A ... gold tooth? Was it an elephant? No, elephants didn't frequent beaches. It ...
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Main male character description

I've been asked to write a story as an assignment. It should have as the main male character an unusually smart, clever, insightful and thoughtful guy who is somewhat reserved and mysterious. The ...