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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When is repetition good?

I'm aware that, in writing, repetition is sometimes bad. For example: "You forgot my birthday!" I said. "No, I didn't forget your birthday." "Then why didn't you wish me happy ...
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3answers
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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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714 views

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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2answers
216 views

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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108 views

Thinking as a character

Months after starting my first novel (which hasn't made any progress and is still in its first draft) I feel I can only react to a given situation rather than create one. The same seems to apply to my ...
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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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3answers
134 views

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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2answers
187 views

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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3answers
144 views

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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2answers
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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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3answers
101 views

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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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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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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1answer
93 views

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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6answers
990 views

How many pages long should a chapter book be?

I have recently started writing a chapter book, which is "a story book intended for intermediate readers generally between 7-10 years old". The book is only 29 pages long and I am nearing the end. ...
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2answers
71 views

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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1answer
101 views

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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1answer
180 views

When it's forgivable to use “suddenly” and “all of a sudden?” [duplicate]

Unless the answer is never, when is it excusable to use those two? I think someone told me it was a sin for a writer to use them. I wonder this because one of my favorite writer used it in one of his ...
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2answers
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How much character description is considered necessary in a “plot driven” story?"

Some stories begin with a rather full description of say, the main character. Here is a clip from Hello Dolly that describes in (for me) excruciating detail not only about what she does (matchmaking) ...
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3answers
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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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4answers
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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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2answers
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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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3answers
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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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2answers
98 views

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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3answers
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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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1answer
73 views

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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1answer
71 views

Novelizing non-fiction, is it worth it?

There are a few lifestyle subjects where I feel I need to write non-fiction books. The problem is that in these fields, most of what is published is 101 intro manuals, while my takes to the field ...
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4answers
121 views

Is a fictional story set in another world harder to get into?

I am writing a fictional story (could be considered science-fiction) about slightly primitive people. It is set in cold environment where a day cycle takes a whole year. Inspired by Antarctica, with ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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84 views

Starting Out a Novel [closed]

Would it be more effective to the reader to start out a novel explaining the setting and scenery or, introducing the characters?
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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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1answer
242 views

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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2answers
115 views

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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2answers
175 views

Do the following scenes feel like flashbacks?

I wrote a short story. One recurring critique is that the flashbacks don't feel like flashbacks, so the readers get confused. The story is about a man who hears a piano next door. Nothing ...
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3answers
226 views

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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2answers
415 views

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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3answers
250 views

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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1answer
168 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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2answers
132 views

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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1answer
110 views

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 ...
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90 views

Tactician's Viewpoint and Contradictory Characterization

I have a character who's supposed to be a talented tactician. Because of the setup of the story, this character is contrasted with another character by means of giving them contradictory or ...
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1answer
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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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1answer
82 views

Does this text flow smoothly (description of suicidal thoughts)?

So how did this animal suicide thing start? Ironically, it began with my own death wish. But why? I had perfect health, friends and family who cared about me, plus I had just been admitted into ...
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1answer
453 views

Should I switch to third person or continue in first person?

Is the following first-person POV introduction good, or would it be helped by switching the story to third-person limited? The book is very action-centric, involving a good deal of fights and ...
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1answer
223 views

Will 9/11 fiction get a writer into trouble with the US Government?

I want to write about the very interesting topic of 'what really happened' on 9/11. How close can I possibly get to real characters and facts without getting sued? Facts I might include in my work: ...
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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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Using true/real names and events in a fiction novel [duplicate]

I would like to know where to reference what true or real names and events can be used in fiction novel. Example: Can you use words such as NFL or names of awards? I understand you cannot use ...