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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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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Is there a complete guideline for which tense to use?

There are questions here about specific use of tenses, but I wonder if there is a more complete guide on what tense to use when? For a fictional novel, Past Tense is the accepted choice. But which ...
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Fiction Novels & Active vs. Passive Voice

Before I launch into this, I've perused these threads and they don't quite answer the specific question I have in mind: When to keep the passive voice and when to remove it When *should* I use ...
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Writing exercises to practice the art of giving unique voice to characters?

I've read many blogs which teach you how to give a unique voice to each of your characters. I feel I understand how to do it, but I think I'm a little stuck in the voice I've been using since I ...
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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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How much repetition is too much repetition?

This is a question that'd been bothering me for a while. Here's an example: My heart racing, I wriggled to the edge of the bed and fumbled for Travis' hand. Just make sure to hold onto it, he'd ...
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Am I making the writing too complex?

My story is of a fantasy world where the wars of several species have all been fought, lost, and the protagonist is writing his journal from inside a jail cell. The writing he does can't be erased. I ...
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Is it a bad habit to write “something” too much? If so, how to get rid of it?

I just realized my prose is filled with somethings. Here are some examples: I was already too far away to go back, and I figured the dog (if it'd been a real one) had ran back to where it had ...
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Is my opening chapter too short?

I've just started writing my first proper novel, I've written short stories and started to write before, but never really had the motivation, but now I have a new, interesting storyline to write ...
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Pulling the reader out of the narrative: When it's too much?

Example (excerpt from a story I'm writing): To make things worse, my schoolmates started calling me “Hanging Pup” from then on (yes, news spread like a diseases at my university. The dumber ...
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Parenthesis Types in Fiction

What's the general approach to using parenthesis (the grammatical construct, not the punctuation mark) in fiction? I have an internal "ranking" of them: Comma-delineated parenthesis, like this, is ...
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Am I using too many adjectives/adverbs in the following piece?

As I made my way uphill, I understood why An-Mei chose this place for her spiritual healing. I glanced around. Gorgeous conifers stretched up endlessly, like pillars connecting the earth with ...
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Asking questions in the middle of a narrative

I'm writing a short story. And I realized the opening is filled with question marks: Ming was disturbed by the faint sound of a piano. He put down his guitar tuner and glanced at the clock. ...
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Rewriting an existing story (fable) to fit it within my fantasy universe

My antagonist sends my protagonist a note that says "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". Obviously, this is the story of the the three wise monkeys, but I'd like this to relate to something ...
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Is repetition justified in the following piece?

Eri kissed her dad on the cheek, and waved goodbye to him. He entered back into the car, and then drove off, disappearing gradually at the far end of the street. Once he was gone, Eri glanced ...
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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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How/When to include twists when developing plot.

Disclaimer: This is a new question, not an extension of my other questions concerning twists. When I develop fiction, I start with a premise and a theme. I have a general idea of where I'm headed, ...
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Writing “X, Y, and Z” vs “X and Y and Z.”

Example: The forest was so dense I was practically swimming through it. A dark, murky ocean of shrubs, trees, and bamboo shoots. The forest was so dense I was practically swimming through ...
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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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Delaying narrative/actions

I tend do this a lot: A straight curve appeared after a moment. I slowed my pace and circled around. Once I came out of it, I caught sight of something. It was a girl. Probably a sixteen ...
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When to use semicolons and when to use em dashes?

Sometimes I can't decide whether to use a semicolon or a em dash. Usually, I start with semicolons and once I noticed there are too many of them, I start replacing a few with em dashes (as I read ...
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Does the following piece have too much dry narration (mundane tasks, moving about)?

Tsuki woke up to the morning sun that entered through the window. She yawned and sat on the side of the bed, rubbing her eyes. The clock on the wall said half past ten. She brushed her teeth, ...
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Gadgets that make the world/story broken

Every so often I see a nice piece of fiction where its author adds something (to save the plot, or to make it interesting, whatever) that makes the story broken (usually it makes the world, setting or ...
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Using a town to symbolize/represent a character within a story (fiction)?

I'm not sure if this has been done before. In my story, the main character's wife takes the form of a town. The town represents how he feels towards his wife (mostly sad feelings and repulsion). It ...
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What are the ethics of using real-world house addresses in historical fiction?

I am editing a novel manuscript for a client of mine. It's a historical fiction set in 1948, so not that long ago. The main character lives in a house above a cafe that I believe is fictional within ...
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Is it possible to turn a cliche into something original?

I always try to avoid cliches as much as I can. But sometimes I just can't; they seem to be the perfect bridge between one scene and the other. For example, in the current novel I'm writing, the ...
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Worried that my opening is not gripping enough

This is the beginning of a novel I'm writing (not the final draft): The hiking trail consisted of pairs of uneven stone steps. On both sides, tall coniferous trees extended tall into the sky, ...
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Choosing a word according to its length

Within a moment, a girl approached the table, holding a huge birthday cake with twenty flickering candles on it. They illuminated/lit everything around them, like a cluster of stars in a night ...
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How much can I talk about other people's works?

Let's say I'm writing a novel set in the future, clearly on Earth, with all the history that has happened through today. Obviously in the real world, there are numerous works of fiction that are ...
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Does “reversing” characters provide enough of a “disconnect ”to defend against a libel suit?

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were fictional, of course, but Lauren Ipsum has convinced me that if they were real people, a story about a "drug-using detective and his MD sidekick" might expose a ...
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Omitting pronouns and possessive adjectives in fiction

When is OK to omitting pronouns and possessive adjectives in fiction? Examples: She called me that weekend while I was cleaning my apartment. She called me that weekend while cleaning my ...
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Improving the flow/rhythm of the following comparison

I smiled and gave her a nod. I was beginning to like her more, plus I realized we had some things in common. Like our attempts of suicide. The difference was striking, of course. Kate’s ...
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I need advice regarding the use of real-world locations in a novel

I've written a crime novel, which is on its final draft before seeking publication now. The novel is set in my hometown. A major "set piece" scene is set in a real location, a business, which I would ...
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Resource for someone better at editing than writing

(I had a previous question, closed as too opinion-based, about being a better editor than writer. I wasn't able to rescue that one, but I thought I'd take a try at a related question.) I am an ...
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How do I start using my heart over my head?

A little bit of background: I am trained as a electrical engineer and the more analytical stuff comes very easily to me. I've become way too analytical in my everyday life, always searching for ...
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Are the following passages examples of tense change? Are they allowed in fiction writing?

We reached the place a few minutes later, which turned out to be—a record store? The room was tiny but nice. Simple, and with the comfort and coziness of the countryside. Plus it had ...
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Is it possible to publish stories with experimental spacing technique? (aka, blank pages, etc.)

I've got a few stories that employ experimental stylistics. The piece that is giving me the most trouble, though, is split up into five sections-- each section begins on its own page. It's hard to ...
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Opening paragraphs of a short story set in an aquarium

I'm writing a short story about a schoolgirl who is visiting an aquarium (this setting is connected with her past and with the conflict of the story). Sophia found herself walking through a glass ...
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Write a 1st person story with a 3rd person narrator

I am writing a story in the 3rd person and i would like to switch the narrator for one of the main characters half way through so that the reader can read how he perceives the story. does anybody have ...
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Is translation work likely to help me develop my own writing abilities?

I've been offered work translating/interpreting some creative works into English. Is this kind of work likely to push my creative boundaries, and teach me how to be a better write of original creative ...
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What are some rich but respectful ways to describe various skin colors?

Say I have a kid's book with children of varying skin tones: a boy with British/Germanic background, a girl with Indian parents in the middle point of Indian skin tones, a girl with a Germanic ...
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Does this urge you to read further or stop?

I was wondering if this opening of my book enticed readers to read further. The book is a dystopian novel. This is NOT a complete chapter, it is only a part of it. Please leave comments on how I can ...
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How to make the first lines of my novel attractive and hooking?

I am currently writing a FICTION-FANTASY-HORROR novel, and I have only written some pages. I have published the first part of the novel especially for this question. How can I make my first lines ...
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Learning to write flash fiction first?

I was wondering if it would be unwise to get a very solid foundation in writing by starting with flash fiction, then working my way up to larger works. I suppose I'm being naive in a sense, because ...
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Can i use the name of a real UK Prime Minister in a fictional Novel? [duplicate]

I am writing a fictional novel that rewrites history surrounding the Gulf war. It involves at one point the actions of the english Prime Minister at the time. In the novel he takes us to war with Iraq ...
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Does inclusion of significant quotations from literature make a novel harder to publish?

I'm considering using quotations (a sentence to a paragraph) from various pieces of literature at the beginning of each chapter of my novel. The quotations connect thematically to the events of the ...
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Issues with Scene/Sequel model

I'm using the Scene/Sequel model to go from an informal outline of my novel to a list of scenes. In summary, during a Scene the POV Character has a Goal, encounters some Conflict, and it ends in ...
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When to start a new paragraph and when to start a new “scene”

This is an extract of a short story I'm writing. Sometimes I get confused about when to start a new paragraph and when to start a new "scene." So I would like to know if I'm doing it properly here ...
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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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How far does libel extend in writing?

Suppose I wrote a book. Suppose it had a normal modern fictional story about it. Suppose that the characters aren't based on real people and have no relation to anyone. Suppose in the background of ...