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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Will this opening and dialogue grab the reader's attention? And how can I improve it?

Disclaimer: I'm not an native English speaker Here is the first part of a short novel I'm writing. For the description I wanted the reader to have an idea of the place first and then let him know ...
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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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281 views

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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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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How to improve/fix this short introductory paragraph and dialog?

These are the things that I want for this introductory paragraph: Grab the reader's attention Create a melancholic and dark atmosphere Inside was dark with just enough light to see shapes, and ...
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1answer
150 views

Style signatures and uncommon formatting patterns

Style signatures are bits of words and phrases used consistently throughout the entirety of a work (but not necessarily among my unrelated works). I would like to try using style signatures in a work ...
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1k views

How does one avoid bland, generic fantasy while they write?

I have been mulling over the plot and characters for an elaborate fantasy work for a number of years now. The longer I mull things over, the more possessed I am that this story is worth telling. The ...
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246 views

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 can I find good venues for publishing my work? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Where to publish poems I used to write poems and stories. They were published in local newspapers many times, but I did not get any benefit besides this limited ...
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261 views

How to get feedback about the quality of one's fictional writing from friends unbiased by the friendship?

It is a little strange to ask, but are there ways to get feedback from friends about the quality of fictional writing (whether they liked it, not more objective aspects like spelling/grammar/etc.) ...
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275 views

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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957 views

Is it frustrating not to know the narrator's gender?

I have written a 1st person piece and reading it I realize it's very difficult to tell if the narrator is male or female. There are one or two clues, and they come pretty late in the piece. Would ...
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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 start a book off?

I have been working on my book (on and off...) for about 6 months. I have a good bit planned out with the plot, story line, and characters. I even have a small idea on how to start the story but ...
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612 views

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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3answers
131 views

How do you connect a non sequitur hook to a novel?

A pineapple is walking down a street, but here’s the kicker: he’s completely naked. That was a non sequitur hook I thought of. I figured that it would raise a bunch of really interesting ...
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176 views

Is writing a light read or “chick lit” a good option for an aspiring literary fiction author?

I live in India and here light reads and "chick lit" have made a great impression. The youth are picking up such books like petrol on fire. Even non-readers are giving reading these genres a try. ...
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4answers
519 views

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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1answer
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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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Quality examples of 'in medias res' starting sequences in SF literature

You can find my initial trials here, and, based on feedback, version two here. I was trying to create a sort of 'flashforward' opening (please don't cite Sawyer) for a novel. That is: of the 45 ...
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665 views

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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1k views

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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Do these starting paragraphs make you want to keep reading?

OK, first, I'm not a native. So, what you do by instinct and a bit of research, I do by extensive research, including accents and dialog style. I’m dead. ‘But you have a chance,’ I was told, ...
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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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455 views

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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How to use His/My/Your permutations in adressing persons [closed]

I'd like to understand the rationale of when, why and how His/My/Your are used in titles of addressing people. For example, the standard commonly accepted uses are: "His Honour"("His Grace", or ...
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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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503 views

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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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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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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5answers
211 views

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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Why shouldn't I use a pen name?

I don't like my name. I feel like seeing my name on the cover of my novel will be an embarassment more than a moment of pride - I just can't take things I've written under my own name seriously, for ...
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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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234 views

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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4answers
303 views

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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251 views

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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124 views

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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390 views

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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What is a beat?

I keep hearing the word "beat" in Writers.SE, as in "... break your scene into beats" from this question. What is a beat? How is it different from a scene?
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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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660 views

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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212 views

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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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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2answers
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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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6answers
3k views

“All of a sudden…” ?

I am writing a manuscript for a novel. It's my first attempt, and often I find myself wanting to write "suddenly" or "all of a sudden". I do this when I want the scene to change in an instant, or ...
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297 views

How to create space

Recently, a few snippets of my fiction have received critiques along the lines of 'Does not give a sense of space'. Or 'needs more description, sights and sounds'. I think where I am going wrong is ...
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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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How do I balance work with my love of writing?

I'm a programmer and an aspiring writer. I love writing. Over the past year, I had been working on my first novel. Making the plot, dimensioning the characters, integrating conflicts etc. And when I ...
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400 views

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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Magazines taking submissions for short stories?

Does anyone have or know of a list of magazines (print or online) accepting submissions for short stories? It would be nice if it could be broken out by genre and payment rates (if applicable).