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 do you make a story succeed in spite of an unsympathetic main character?

I'm looking for techniques specific to a story with an unsympathetic main character. Confederacy of Dunces, for example. Why does that work, and why wouldn't that work with a likable hero?
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5answers
729 views

“multiple personalities” for character development in writing?

How can I train myself to think in "multiple personalities" so I can use these personalities for character development in writing?
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7answers
355 views

Should you read your own genre?

In terms of novel writing, I tend to avoid my own genre, at least for the most part. Some of the reasons why: Genre Blindness / Genre Trap: Too much reading of your own genre blinds you to the ...
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5answers
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What is a good methodology for researching a historical novel?

I'm having difficulty with the research aspect of my historical novel. This question was originally going to be "how much research should one do to write a historical novel?" to which, answering my ...
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4answers
3k views

Using the real world in writing

To what extent can you use locations, businesses, etc. from the real world in fiction? I know someone cannot copyright a city, but what about a particular location in the city that's private. Can I ...
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6answers
39k views

What are the advantages and disadvantages of writing in first person?

A lot of people are either on the side of first person or the side of third person. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of writing in first person for fiction?
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4answers
351 views

What to do if I end up confused by my own plot because of 'trying to be original' or 'trying to make the story more deep'?

Sometimes, I find myself in the dilemma that I come out with a plot that tells exactly what I want to say. But then, I try to modify it in order to make it more original (at least, less similar than ...
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3answers
245 views

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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4answers
361 views

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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3answers
1k views

Pros ans cons of writing a plot based on the present and past tense (character's point of view)?

I'm not sure if I should write my first book in the present or past tense. The book is about a doctor in a clinic who is analysing his patients. e.g. I said, VS I say. I thought for a while ...
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5answers
163 views

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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3answers
334 views

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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2answers
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First conversation scenes I've written (looking for errors, conventions, and improvements according to writting standards).

Basically, I would like to know if I'm doing something wrong (according to witting standards) in the following conversation and how to improve it to help readability, quality and feeling (making it ...
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2answers
378 views

What exactly do I do to get published?

I'm interested to know what the publishing process exactly entails for future reference. I'm in my last year of school and I recently finished my first substantial piece of creative writing (a subject ...
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8answers
562 views

What's the benefit of using invented languages in-story?

I'm working on a fictional story set in a fantastical (although coherent) universe; I'm used to seeing, in works like this, invented languages: Tolkien's languages for The Lord of the Rings, or ...
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5answers
4k views

How to describe the point-of-view character without using mirrors

In fiction, the main character is often the first person we meet in the story. Given that the story is written from his/her point of view, how would you describe what they look like? The classical ...
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5answers
3k views

Signs of Bad Character Development

When creating a character, what red flags would show me that I'm creating an unbelievable or unsympathetic character? I know that to be believable and sympathetic a character must not lean too much ...
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6answers
2k views

Keeping track of multiple plot lines

How do you track several plot lines woven together? I usually run 2 or 3 plot-lines in parallel, so I detail those plots each in a separate document. But as the book goes on, it is sometimes ...
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7answers
390 views

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 ...
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4answers
472 views

How to avoid hearing “that's me!” from your friends when they read your characters?

I recently asked about getting inside of someone else's head for writing good characters who are noticeably different from myself and received some great answers. One answer suggested that you should ...
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4answers
234 views

Critique: Intro/Prologue to my Novel-in-Progress

all. Please forgive me, for I'm afraid I'm a novice when it comes to writing fiction. I wanted to get the community's thoughts and recommendations for improving the below passage. I realize it ...
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3answers
865 views

Character details of male archetypes

In this link about character development, the author describes basic male archetypes that are found in a romance novel. http://www.likesbooks.com/eight.html My question is: although this is very ...
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8answers
620 views

How to handle foreign military ranks?

Suppose you have a character who has a rank in a foreign military - say, Feldwebel Hans. That's the equivalent of a Sergeant. On one hand, having people call him "Herr Feldwebel" gives some flavor ...
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1answer
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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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6answers
1k views

Getting Inside Someone Else's Head

A common problem for novice fiction writers, and one that I feel that I myself haven't quite graduated from, is always writing characters who are like the author. Each character is merely some facet ...
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3answers
1k views

How do you make a character quintessential, but not cliched or cartoony?

I think it's hard to make a character standout and embody their traits without becoming cliched or cartoons. How do you do this? What are some tips to enlivening a character and making them memorable? ...
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5answers
552 views

What is flash fiction?

Is it simply defined by its short word count? Or are there other accepted conventions in flash fiction? If it's just the word count, how short is too short? How long is too long?
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Do most novels not get published?

If a person writes a novel, grammar alright, decent story, word count, etc. everything okay, Is it a crap shoot for that person to get published? Is it just like the lottery or maybe better ...
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6answers
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What makes first person plural a tricky narrative voice?

I absolutely loved Joshua Ferris's debut novel Then We Came to the End. Critics highly praised his use for the first person plural as a narrator. The work is set in an office and the "we" used ...
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6answers
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Examples for books that don't use (traditional) chapters? [closed]

I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett, and he doesn't use chapters (mostly). Are there any other authors who don't or tend to not use chapters?
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4answers
257 views

What genre is a book in an imaginary world but no other fantasy element?

I'm trying to figure out what genre the following is, if any. (I asked a similar question, but this is different now, and more detailed.) The story takes place in an imaginary world. It's more or ...
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9answers
2k views

What are some examples of modern original plots?

In a comment on this answer, a valuable community contributor suggested that it is possible to be totally original in writing, despite the fact that other valuable community members have stated that ...
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8answers
450 views

Is it so bad to end up with a “done before” plot?

I'm not delusional about the nature of the science fiction novel I'm (very) slowly working on. A brief run down might be as follows: Set 10's of millennia in Human's future but in a neighbouring ...
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3answers
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What should be in a cover letter for short story submission to a magazine?

It's been about five years since I last submitted any of my work for publication, and my memory of what I was taught then to put in my cover letter is getting rusty. What kind of information should ...
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2answers
447 views

Is there any hope of a fictional short story being published?

I mean under 100k, probably less than 50k because it's a short story. Actually, I'm not sure how many words a short story has so I have two questions. How short is a short story and is it worth the ...
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2answers
359 views

How to identify a scene type?

What are the main types in which a scene can be classified, and what are the key concepts for each type? I am thinking something along the following (guessing the descriptions): suspense - scene ...
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2answers
518 views

Can someone explain set pieces?

I was using a book in a writing group that talked about set pieces, but I never really got a clear idea of what it is or how they're supposed to appear in writing. My impression was that you have a ...
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10answers
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Fictional diary for a novel

When it is appropriate to use the diary form for a novel? Which are the most effective published examples? (I mean fictional diaries, so not Anne Frank's diary).
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7answers
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When should one *not* present events in chronological order?

Some stories tell well from beginning to end, all in a neat little line...and some don't. When can a story be improved by using a different order in the telling? Off the top of my head, I'd say ...
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2answers
324 views

Out of this world… Giving it time?

I am starting to write a fantasy story. For the first time, i am using computer software to help organize my story. The program confronted me with a question. What is the birthday of a character? ...
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5answers
264 views

What can one do to get the most from limited writing time?

I do make an effort to write every day, and usually succeed, but I just have too much going on in my life right now to give my writing the time it would like to have. When I do have time, blog posts, ...
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2answers
111 views

How can you submit your writings internationally?

I live in Argentina, and I've always wondered if (given the case of having something worthy) I'd be able to submit it to publishers in, for example, the USA. Of course the writing would be in English. ...
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4answers
142 views

How to share the work, if writing fiction in a team?

How should one split up the work between two people? Should one write the even-numbered chapters and the other the odd-numbered? Does each person tell the story from the point of view of a different ...
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6answers
215 views

How deeply should I study the background of a community before writing about it?

By "background", I mean the dialects, habits and culture of the community. Also, I wonder if it is even possible to write about a community without being a part of it? I am only asking this in terms ...
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Third-person objective in action scene

I'm telling a story in third-person objective, the first part being basically an objective description of events around a certain character. I got to a brief action scene, and it fell flat. What the ...
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3answers
107 views

Where can subject matter experts volunteer to work on proofing the technical details in fiction?

I am not a writer (yet!), but I have been working in the computer field for over 10 years and would love to put in some time volunteering my services as a subject matter expert (SME) for programming ...
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2answers
2k views

What techniques are used to plot long (multi-novel) story arcs?

As a very visual person, I have always considered plotting a story to be somewhat like knitting or macrame. How do series authors handle multi novel story arcs? Do they just keep throwing out lines ...
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1answer
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Shared worlds: are there any good collaborative sites out there?

Writing is something that I have wanted to do for some time, and I know that I don't currently have the skill set to do more than putter. Are there any shared world story sites that exist? A ...
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17answers
1k views

Fan Fiction: a crutch or a good start?

Writing is writing, but I am not confident enough to take on creating a whole world from scratch. Will writing fanfic or writing in other shared world spaces be beneficial, or will it simply allow me ...
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Jumping on the Zombie bandwagon

Is it too late to jump on the zombie bandwagon? There are loads of stories about the possible popular outcome of an apocalypse, is it possible to squeeze anything more out of it? Or, maybe it would ...