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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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 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 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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272 views

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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239 views

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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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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Does the country matter in a story if it is set in a real one?

So far I've been setting my stories in the country I live: Taiwan. Not because I love my country. In fact, I'm not fond of patriotism. I just figured out it would be easier to describe surroundings ...
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What are examples of fiction books picked up by publishers after being self-published?

I've seen some references to commercial publishers picking up a self-published novel if it's been selling well. Can you point me to a few specific examples of this happening? Fiction only, please. ...
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Does this microfiction provide a slightly surreal sense when describing an ordinary scene?

In this short story I'm trying to describe an unexceptional scene in an exciting and compelling way. I want to make a common ritual seem strange and a bit surreal. Does this paragraph accomplish these ...
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Does this beginning hook the reader?

Guide lines Q no. 4: This is supposed to be the opening part, but certainly not the whole of the first chapter or page for that matter... I'm not exactly sure anyone would take 30 seconds to read ...
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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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How to depict Australian characters

In my working novel, a character encounters an Aussie. Having nigh-zero knowledge of how to make dialogues in an Australian accent, I just opted to describe that he talks without any hints of an ...
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What work better for the following piece of writing? Past or present tense?

I'm writing a short story but I'm not sure whether to write it in the past or the present tense. This is the opening paragraph: Sophia was awakened by the rattling sound of her washing machine. ...
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493 views

How best to handle revealing a main character's name midway through a long story in close-third person?

I'm writing a novel, and it's written in close third person perspective, very much sitting on the shoulder of one main character and privy to their thoughts. There is another very important character ...
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How specific should I be when outlining the plot?

One problem I often run into when trying to make a general outline of the plot for a story is how specific I am in the descriptions of events. Generally, this happens when I have written a portion of ...
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Which version of these three lines is more likely to attract the interest of the reader ? (character's viewpoint vs omnicient narrator)

The first one is a suggestion I got from my previous question. The second one is a version based on the character's viewpoint. Which version is more likely to attract the interest of the reader (and ...
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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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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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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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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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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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Do writers use highlighting to clarify ideas in their work in progress?

In programming we often use syntax highlight in order to have a better picture of what the role of particular bits of code is (using different colours). I wonder if writers do something similar - ...
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How to improve this introductory paragraph (to fit writting standards and grab the reader's attention)?

A clock is striking 4:00am at a psychiatric clinic. The darkness, the silence, and absence of people makes it look like a morgue. A young mental health professional is sitting in a chair ...
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Typical Fairy-tale Story Especially Princess Stories

I have a question. I am planing to write to a fairy-tale like a Brother Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson type of fairy-tale set in the modern time but after conducting research(reading fairy-tales of ...
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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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Is it okay to attempt to write in the style of another person, and how is that done well?

I want to write like Neal Stephenson- I read Snow Crash and absolutely fell in love with the style. I'm trying to write a cyberpunk style book myself, and I have a good plot (I think), but I want to ...
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All persons fictitious - where to place it?

I've got an all persons fictitious disclaimer similar to the one mentioned at All persons fictitious disclaimer — ideas regarding modification? but where should I place it? Bear in mind, this is a ...
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Is it bad idea to directly state the message/moral of a story?

I realized I tend to state directly the message/moral of the story in my stories (as dialogue in most of the cases). My plots are rather ambiguous, though. And I use a lot of metaphors/symbols so the ...
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390 views

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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Am I providing enough information to keep the reader gripped?

This is the opening of a short story I'm writing (second draft): A deep silence enveloped the room as the words escaped from my mouth. I turned to the side to look at Akiko. She was staring ...
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Balancing character levity in a serious narrative

I am looking for examples of authors who manage to have sarcastic/funny characters exist in a very serious, end of the world type of scenario. The issue I am trying to resolve is when I write ...
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How do I find a ghostwriter for a series of books?

Where do I find ghost writers? It's for a series I am developing for the Kindle singles series, also to be combined and sold as novels. Word count will be 5k - 20k - I am interested in splitting ...
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Adding breaks in a novel—spaces, asterisks, or a chapter break?

I am editing my first novel and wherever I find a natural break in the story, I add a few spaces. I want to go back and adjust what types of breaks those are, but how best to represent those spaces in ...
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Italicizing and adding accents to Spanish words in an English novel.

In my current novel I have a few characters who speak Spanish. The book takes place along the Texico border, so it happens frequently. I know that in more foreign Spanish, or when someone speaks a ...
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What are good examples of backstory in natural dialogue?

Does anyone have good examples from modern day fiction where backstory is given to the reader in a "good" way? I'm trying to get a feel for what sounds natural in writing. In real life there are ...