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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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 ...
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How can I make believable motivations for antagonists?

I am writing a book. However, I can't quite wrap my head around making my character do bad things, while still making their actions and/or motivations for their actions believable. Here is an ...
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Stories based on news: are they allowed?

I just read a story on the news that made me go: Oh my, this would make a great short story. I've never written a story based on a news article before. So I'm wondering, will someone sue me? Am I ...
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What are the stages of The Guardian's Journey?

In constructing a story, I plan on following the following patterns: The Hero's Journey: The Hero's Journey The Villain's Quest: The Villain's Quest My question is, what would be the structure of ...
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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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How to avoid getting confused while adding symbols within symbols (novel writing)?

For instance, I'm writing a novel where the main character is wandering in a city which represents his wife (symbol number one), but then the places he visits within the city also represent the bad ...
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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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Is it true that men (in general) can't write female first-person?

I think I first saw that statement in an answer to this question. Men cannot, in general, write female first-person. I gave it a thought, and realized there was some truth in it; I've read ...
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Do I risk losing reader if I put too many religious/anti-religious views?

I've been pondering this for a while. Now, I'm not so worried about losing readers than affecting the quality of my writing. Preaching too much instead of telling the actual story. Here's an example: ...
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Deciding whether to use a dialogue tag or an action tag in a dialogue

Example: "I'm not saying you don't know what you are talking about," he said, then looked at her and shrugged his shoulders. "But I don't know what you are talking about." "I'm not saying ...
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What can I use instead of “but” and “however”?

I just noticed I tend to use "but" and 'however" in almost every paragraph. Examples (all of them are from the same story): I almost let everything out. But, funny, I didn't. I didn't want him ...
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Misleading facts in the About the Author section

In the 'About the Author' section of Cuckoo's calling, it says that Robert Galbraith spent several years in the military etc etc. But now that we all know who Robert Galbraith is...does this not ...
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Is there a disadvantage to transcending genre?

I am an aspiring author. I've often heard that you have to keep your 'target audience' in mind. It makes sense - certain genres attract certain crowds. Well... I want my books to reach as many people ...
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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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Is this excerpt's style too matter-of-fact?

I get the feeling that this blurb is too... expositiony, not enough description. Too much "this happened and then this happened and then this happened". But I'm notoriously bad at evaluating myself - ...
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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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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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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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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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How to improve logic/reduce plot holes?

One of my biggest weakness is logic/plot holes. And it's not only about inconsistency in my stories, but my character often have contradictory thoughts and do stuff that come up as unbelievable. I'm ...
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Can your current work of fiction be influenced by a sequel?

Most works of fiction are influenced by back stories. Can that also be true for envisioned sequels? I was working on a screenplay in which a female suit rises to the top of the company and is ...
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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 do I write numbers in dialogue?

My proofreader recently revealed to me the following, which I was wholly unaware of: ...when a number/code/serial or whatever is said in dialogue, you write the whole thing out... I had written ...
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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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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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How do you decide whether to use the infinitive or -ing version of a verb?

Example: Three months had passed since she started to avoid me. Three months had passed since she started avoiding me. Right now, what I do is to search for the phrase with the most results ...
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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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Are there times when delayed character development is acceptable in fiction?

In my screenplay, I have my female protagonist wear Prada, and perhaps drop other hints of her character, but not act like Miranda Priestly for the first two acts, until she gets a promotion at the ...
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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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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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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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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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Good way to create character names?

I find that a problem that I run into quite often is the fact that I can't create names that sound real, but also have a nice ring so that they fit the character. Does anyone have any suggestions on ...
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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 ...