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 prioritize projects

I'm just starting out with writing fiction seriously. I feel like this might be my "thing." Strangely enough, at the moment I find myself with a number of ideas, most in very early stages of ...
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What is the role of memorable lines in movies?

I'm referring to quotes like, "Go ahead and make my day," or "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth." I've read that actors like them, because they are more likely to win prizes, and that ...
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How important is being well read for a writer

Back in the mists of time, I would put a lot of time into reading, and would read pretty much anything I could lay my hands on. Then I started writing, and it is very very rare that I read any ...
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is there a “standard” plot structure where the protagonist has a “bird in hand” at the end of Act II?

In most plays I've studied, e.g. Erin Brockovich, the end of the second Act II is the "darkest moment" for the protagonist. It's the time when one (at least yours truly) asks, "Why did the hero come ...
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Are there good tips on being a better *creative* writer?

I'm a student at Case, and while we of course have an English department, it seems the only kind of writing classes/courses available are for learning to be either a "literary" writer, or a "scholarly"...
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What is the story or format called when the protagonist is not the “hero?”

For instance, in "Silence of the Lambs," the "hero is Clarice Starling, the FBI agent, and the protagonist is the villain, Hannibal Lecter. What is this kind of story format called? What happens if ...
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How Can I Effectively Develop Fictional Characters

So, I'm trying my own attempt at writing and I keep having trouble with developing my characters. Are there any effective methods of developing fictional characters? It can just be a small idea or ...
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Is it ok to “reprise” a scene from an earlier screenplay in a sequel?

In my screenplay, there is a the so-called "receptionist scene" where the (female) receptionist warns the heroine that the company she just joined at a high level isn't very woman friendly. The ...
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World Building vs Story Writing

Note, this might be off topic and belong on World Building SE? I have always been far more interested with building the world my stories take place in than the stories themselves. I will spend large ...
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What are the elements of a good blurb?

I'm writing a blurb. To do so, I'm using my favorite novels as examples. Here's one: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. ...
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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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Should “plot” or storyline be the main determinant of what goes into a story?

In writing a screenplay, I created a bunch of scenes, with about twice as much material in total as I needed. So the job was to cut things down to size. In so doing, I found that a number of scenes (...
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Multiple POV novel - introducing rules of magic

I have an urban fantasy story that is told from multiple view points. I'm wondering on the best way to introduce the rules of magic within this piece of work? I have about 10 points of view total ...
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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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Degree of symmetry in lists

For example, is the flow disrupted or does it sound weird if only one of the items has an adjective? My understanding of zoology was poor, but I knew animals would do everything to survive; ...
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How to deal with cliche dialogue?

The following is from a story I'm writing: "Goodbye Choco," my mother said, to end the prayer, “may your soul rest in peace,” and crossed herself. “Sorry I couldn’t come earlier,” I said. “...
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Are there words that are “stronger” than others? If so, why?

By strong I mean causing intense feelings in the reader. I thought about this while I was editing my novel (I consider the second cases to be stronger words): I turned to the left I twisted ...
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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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Clichéd Actions

I sometimes catch myself writing excessively clichéd descriptions - not in the words, but in what the characters do. For example, they always seems to end up pacing up and down the room while waiting ...
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Is it bad to include subplots that don't push the story forward?

I want to add a few chapters that don't push the story forward; they only explore the background and motivations of the characters. The best example I can think of is the Fly episode in Breaking Bad. ...
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Should I use ideas for my story now, or in a sequel?

I have built a world in which to write my fantasy book, and I'm currently writing my first book about it. I have it all planned out and am in the process of writing it. I have plans for a further book ...
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615 views

Can a male writer write from a female perspective? [duplicate]

The question is pretty straightforward. Can a male writer write a first person story of a female protagonist? What limitations might he face in writing about the other gender? Should he just stick to ...
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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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How do I create different speaking styles for my characters? [duplicate]

In my fiction writing, how do I create individual speaking styles for my characters? It is more than giving one or two of them an accent or dialect. What techniques do you use to vary the structure, ...
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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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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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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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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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Are modern authors still using colons and semicolons in dialogue?

Not sure if it's just my idea but I rarely see colons and semicolons in dialogue (especially in modern novels). Is it because they don't simulate normal speech? Because their use is more a semantic ...
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How to decide where to break a novel

I'm writing a book which was initially intended to be a duology and I had a fixed storyline with the path completely clear. In this story, I introduce 2 characters - one major, introduced at the ...
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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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Is it OK to omit the following “grammatical rules” in fiction? [closed]

Okay, I'm not sure if they are "rules" or "grammatical", but here they go: After a while our necks began to ache, so we sat on the rest chairs behind (us). I liked it here. The air was fresh and ...
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Are 'how-to write fiction' books full of it?

I built and sold a business during my first decade of adulthood. During that period, I read a lot of business books published by the popular press. Typically, these books propound a particular method ...
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Should I use ellipses in narration?

I want to indicate a dramatic pause in the narration of my fiction, but the rules I've read say that ellipses are reserved for "" quoted dialog. This would be the example I'm looking at: ...
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Can I legally use experimental items in my book? [closed]

I am looking to write a book and include real experimental weapons and aircrafts. Is this possible or could I be sued. Say for example if the american government had a prototype aircraft that was ...
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Female Pet Names that a Londoner might use

I was wondering about female pet names, like darling, sweetie, pet, babe etc. One of my characters refers to his other half as "pet" but I've been told that this is common to the North East (UK). As ...
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Do agents/editors take Snoflake Pro-based proposals seriously?

I've just stumbled upon the Snowflake Pro software and have been very happy with how it has improved the quality and completeness of my manuscript. At the end of the process, the software uses all the ...
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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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How do you decide where to place a filler?

Examples: "I've always been interested in marine biology, as far as I can remember. "As far as I can remember, I've always been interested in marine biology, Of course, we can'...
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What's the initial small caps rule of this book?

I want to use the same initial small cap rule of The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. But I still can't figure it out. Some examples: TALKING HEADS’ Fear of Music is on my record player, so I lower ...
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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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Is it OK to add chapters to slow down the pace of the story?

Example: I'm writing a story where the protagonist is searching for some information. She searches for it at her university, and fails. After that chapter, however, she finally finds someone who leads ...
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Is it OK for a first person narrator to directly state the other character's emotions?

Example: I gasped. Tom swallowed. He was also surprised by the maid's sudden appearance. In this case the narrator is directly talking about Tom's feelings. I gasped. Tom swallowed. He also ...
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Do words like “start”, “realize”, and “decide” add ambiguity to actions?

My heart started to race. Did the heart actually race or not yet? Later that night, I realized I couldn't sleep. Did the person try to sleep? Or knew that before even trying? We decided ...
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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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118 views

How political can an author's note be, would the following fly? [closed]

"If the ANC does to you what the apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government." – Nelson Mandela I wrote this novel in what was at the time my ...
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How to write romance without falling into cliché?

A few examples of romance clichés: A is in love with B, but doesn't dare to tell him/her. After some chasing, A finally has sex with B (and the sex is fantastic). Love triangle: A loves B, B loves C,...
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What makes a piece “lyrical”?

I've been thinking about this question for a while. This is my definition of what makes a sentence lyrical: 1. The use of metaphors: So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, ...
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Can a Town/City Sue an Author for a Bad Portrayal in Fiction?

Lets say we choose a random town off of google maps on which to base a story where the local authorities (we won't say police, or whatnot, but local authorities) perform an investigation that is ...
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A grand scheme or destiny in literature

There's one thing in literature that no matter how cliche or over used it might be, I always find very compelling. For example, when a story unfolds as if there is a larger force at work moving all of ...