Questions tagged [fiction]

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, techniques and publishing.

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36 votes
16 answers
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Is it okay to publish a book at a young age?

I am writing a novel that is called 'Murder' It's about a girl who almost gets murdered but then has to live with the murderers with almost no knowledge that they are the ones that killed her. (...
user avatar
29 votes
7 answers
16k 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 ...
way0utwest's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
945 views

How to show that something is different than in real life?

I'm writing fiction set in the near future (~15-20 years). The world is still mostly the same and thus familiar to the reader, but an important part of the story is that a few things are radically ...
Michael Stum's user avatar
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37 votes
3 answers
5k views

What is meant by "purposeful, habitual, and gratuitous" actions?

In his "Characters" essay, Samuel R. Delany purports there are three types of actions to characters: "purposeful, habitual, and gratuitous." He also defends that, in a novel, if "a character [is] ...
dkaeae's user avatar
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5 votes
6 answers
2k views

I am a 16 year old who wants to be a writer, but can I? [duplicate]

I'm 16 years old and I've wrote about 4 to 5 different books. I have two that I think would be good enough for the public to read. I've been writing stories since I was 10. I want to be published but ...
Alyssa Bynum's user avatar
19 votes
6 answers
9k views

How to deal with a story that 95% of it takes place in a different language country and the protagonist speaks in it?

The protagonist is from a certain country, and in some point of the story he moves to another one that speaks another language. The protagonist learns their language and talks with them in it. ...
Yuuza's user avatar
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18 votes
8 answers
3k views

How to open a novel?

Looking at the function of the beginning of a novel, it is clear that it should hook the reader and draw him or her into the story. Different techniques for achieving the hook have been described, ...
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26 votes
12 answers
3k views

What does Show don't Tell actually mean

I am asking this question because I think we need a precise definition of what Show Don't Tell means if we are to decide if it is good advice or bad, or if it is a valid suggestion for certain ...
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19 votes
7 answers
4k views

Alternatives to "he said" in dialogue

I'm working on my first fiction story. And one mechanical thing I struggle with is how to identify the speakers in dialog without constantly saying "Bob said", "Mary said", etc. ...
Jay's user avatar
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13 votes
5 answers
3k 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 ...
wyc's user avatar
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12 votes
6 answers
6k views

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 ...
user6116's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
1k views

Sizing of a chapter and how many should I use?

This is basically a follow-up question I asked here: Scene switching and how to do it? I always considered it normal for a chapter to have between 3000 and 5000 words. And people around here thought ...
Totumus Maximus's user avatar
74 votes
25 answers
29k views

The protagonist can't defeat the antagonist without the antagonist being stupid

What should I do if my story's plot is built around the antagonist being extremely strong, and by the end it's clear that the protagonist cannot possibly defeat the antagonist, unless the antagonist ...
clickbait's user avatar
  • 1,095
12 votes
5 answers
746 views

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 ...
Amin Mohamed Ajani's user avatar
9 votes
6 answers
9k views

How to introduce a world that's alien to the reader

I'm writing sort of a space-opera and I was wondering what would the best way to explain everything about the world to my readers. The story is kind of a political intrigue, and it would be very easy ...
Burnlan's user avatar
  • 211
32 votes
11 answers
5k views

Writing diversity

I am writing a military sci-fi novel about an international military force facing aliens. My cast is very diverse: the MC is Yemenite-Israeli, his love interest is German, his room-mates are from ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
19 votes
8 answers
1k 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 ...
Nick Bedford's user avatar
  • 1,105
17 votes
7 answers
30k views

Characters with no names

I've got a few short stories going, and I've foregone naming any of my characters. It started because I just didn't have any good names in my head and I was going to take care of it later, but now I'm ...
tylerharms's user avatar
  • 1,008
14 votes
3 answers
13k views

How to replace overuse of "I" in a short story, fiction, written in the first person

I am trying to edit a short story, written in the first person. I have used "I" way too many times, it stands out too much at the beginning of a sentence, but I can't seen to change it ...
Deirdre Ní Laochdha's user avatar
14 votes
5 answers
20k views

How to avoid repetitive sentence structure?

I've realized that I always start sentences with (name of character), he, she, it, they, her, his, the, after (a moment/that), and then. I wonder if there's any useful exercise or tip to reduce this? ...
wyc's user avatar
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6 votes
4 answers
2k views

Using real names in fiction

I'm thinking of writing a fiction novel. The plot I've outlined so far centers largely around one possible path the future of our world could take over the next several decades. In doing so, the story ...
tsilb's user avatar
  • 163
5 votes
3 answers
666 views

Do I write the entire series and edit, or edit the books as I go?

Background Woohoo! The time has come, my first book of a trilogy is one chapter away from finishing. I've done a little editing as I go, clearing up the bad chapters, but haven't properly gone ...
Featherball's user avatar
  • 4,429
3 votes
6 answers
3k views

Should I be a Novel Writer or a Screenwriter?

Should I be a Novel Writer or a Screenwriter? This question is intended for the beginning writer, who is unsure if he should start with writing physical books, or with writing scripts for movie ...
Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron's user avatar
67 votes
17 answers
21k views

Avoiding racist tropes in fantasy

I'm interested in starting a pleasure project: a fantasy story, along the lines of a witch delivering a prophecy to a king about a dangerous and deceitful foe who will overthrow him, and the king ...
user avatar
36 votes
10 answers
13k views

How to write female characters with agency?

I'm attempting to write a novel, an historical fiction with a small fantasy component (time travel through a portal). The travelers (main characters) are a young couple from the late 23rd Century who ...
J.D. Ray's user avatar
  • 954
24 votes
7 answers
11k views

What is the difference between writing in the first and the third person?

What kind of story is better suited for each point of view? Are there advantages or disadvantages inherent to them? For example, writing in the first person you are always following a character, ...
juan's user avatar
  • 1,413
22 votes
7 answers
20k views

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?...
HNL's user avatar
  • 837
21 votes
11 answers
5k views

How to derive a first sentence from a story?

There is much advice out there on "how to write a killer opening line". Usually these blog posts or how-to-write book chapters list examples of first sentences from recognized masterworks or group ...
user avatar
20 votes
4 answers
12k views

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?
Shantnu Tiwari's user avatar
18 votes
6 answers
3k views

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?
Lynn Beighley's user avatar
17 votes
5 answers
4k views

Can I shop an unfinished novel?

I've been writing a novel that addresses some very current themes. My belief is that if I can get it out there quickly, it will succeed well. I'm working on it frantically, but will agents consider ...
Lynn Beighley's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
697 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 ...
M.A's user avatar
  • 462
9 votes
5 answers
2k views

Is it permitted to mention a real life work of fiction in your story?

I am working on a new project that draws influence from a currently running television show. What I want to do is make a reference to that show in my work. Almost as a joke to say, "We're nothing like ...
Dylan Beck's user avatar
8 votes
5 answers
4k views

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 ...
RSid's user avatar
  • 305
8 votes
8 answers
3k views

How to write female characters as a male writer?

Yesterday I asked a question about writing a female character who has agency. Much to my surprise, it was well-received and generated a lot of great discussion. In reading that discussion, however, ...
J.D. Ray's user avatar
  • 954
7 votes
6 answers
6k views

Where can I find co-authors willing to share writing duties for a fiction novel?

Writing has turned out to be lonely profession. After a successful career of working with collaborative teams on technology projects, I have just completed the story development for my first fiction ...
RGregoryC's user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
16k views

Help! I accidentally gave my fictional character the same name as a fictional character on a TV show. Do I have to change it?

I've been writing a YA mystery book in which one of the three main characters is a detective—who now seems to share his name with another fictional character on TV. I was pretty young when I came up ...
MysteryWriter's user avatar
5 votes
6 answers
686 views

How can I get in the Habit of Writing with Twists?

I've always felt that my writing is very sequential. It's a chain of events. This happens, then this happens, then this happens, and so on. Not to say that the events are boring, but I just always ...
Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron's user avatar
5 votes
4 answers
12k views

How to write a telephone conversation in a novel?

If Closed Captioning on TV is any guide, then dialogue heard over a phone would be in italics, not in quotes. The same would apply to dialogue audible when the phone is on speaker and as over a walkie-...
Iliketowalk's user avatar
4 votes
6 answers
319 views

How to create a title

I am at a dilemma, as I cannot title my novel. So I created these questions. What creates a good title for a novel? What should I include/not include in my title? At the moment, I have come up with '...
Featherball's user avatar
  • 4,429
4 votes
3 answers
2k views

What Genre Category for a Semi-Fictional Memoir?

What genre do these types of Memoirs fall under? "Inspired by true events?" ... Is Semi-Fictional Memoir a "thing"? I definitely don't feel that "fictional autobiography" fits. I have been ...
elika kohen's user avatar
56 votes
8 answers
35k 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 ...
Tim Chaves's user avatar
41 votes
7 answers
4k 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 ...
justkt's user avatar
  • 6,675
27 votes
6 answers
6k views

Is it Ok to make up places if I want the reader to think it’s set in the real world?

What I’m doing is making a story in the medieval times and I wanted to make up a village and have my characters be there and travel around there but do I have to make everything around there in the ...
Angel's user avatar
  • 1,654
26 votes
22 answers
19k views

Can a book be written without an antagonist?

I have had this thought running through my head and wondered what your thoughts were on it. Can a book, a story I should say, be written without an antagonist or antagonistic theme? I have an idea ...
Michael's user avatar
  • 363
26 votes
5 answers
3k views

How to avoid hearing "that's me!" from your friends when they read your characters, and that wasn't your intent?

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 ...
justkt's user avatar
  • 6,675
24 votes
5 answers
13k 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 ...
Koen Van Damme's user avatar
23 votes
14 answers
10k views

Creating a story in which the hero(es) lose [closed]

So I am still in the primitive stages of creating my own world and story, if I even do it that is. I am still trying to get a feel for where I want to go with it. The biggest issue would be that, my ...
ggiaquin16's user avatar
  • 4,589
22 votes
8 answers
4k views

How to be mindful of the reader when handling disturbing/distressing subjects?

I’m attempting to write some ‘difficult to read’ scenes such as violence, rape, trauma, etc. And I’m not talking about ‘good’ violence such as in Game of Thrones or a Quentin Tarantino film. The novel ...
sudowoodo's user avatar
  • 1,944
22 votes
4 answers
1k views

Feedback: What to use and what to ignore?

I posted my novel online for critique. And stumbled with the obvious question: when should I consider a feedback and when should I ignore it? This is what I'm doing so far: If more than two people ...
wyc's user avatar
  • 12.4k

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