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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31
votes
15answers
28k views

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. (...
29
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7answers
15k 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 ...
12
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1answer
828 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 ...
18
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8answers
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, ...
19
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6answers
8k 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. ...
6
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6answers
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 ...
19
votes
6answers
3k 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. ...
13
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5answers
2k 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 ...
73
votes
25answers
27k 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 ...
24
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12answers
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 ...
12
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5answers
715 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 ...
8
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6answers
8k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
924 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
19k 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? ...
18
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7answers
28k 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 ...
19
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8answers
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 ...
12
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6answers
5k 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 ...
29
votes
11answers
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 ...
3
votes
6answers
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 ...
5
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3answers
390 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 ...
37
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2answers
4k 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] ...
14
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3answers
622 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 ...
65
votes
17answers
17k 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 ...
6
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8answers
2k 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, ...
23
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7answers
10k 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, ...
18
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6answers
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?
10
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3answers
10k 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 without ...
18
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4answers
11k 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?
17
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5answers
3k 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 ...
8
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5answers
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 ...
7
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6answers
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 ...
4
votes
6answers
274 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 '...
9
votes
5answers
846 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
7k 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-...
4
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
35
votes
10answers
12k 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 ...
55
votes
8answers
29k 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 ...
38
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
24
votes
5answers
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 ...
23
votes
14answers
9k 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 ...
24
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
18
votes
12answers
8k views

How to overcome the fact that I can't write long stories?

I have written some short stories (in fact, they are flash fiction). When I'm writing short stories, the ideas and the structure come to my mind by themselves. Something different happens when I try ...
16
votes
7answers
3k views

Writing a Satisfying Ending

It strikes me that the last chapter (or so) of any story needs to make the reader feel that reading the book has been a worthwhile experience. An exceptional ending might leave a reader with such a ...
11
votes
7answers
26k views

Coming up with names for species in fiction?

When you are writing a story that is set in a fantasy world (maybe our world with just one made-up element, or a completely different world), what is a good way to come up with names for species that ...
26
votes
22answers
17k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

Background speech with foreground dialogue

A few days ago, I stumbled upon an issue of the type; meaning I had two characters talking between themselves and another character talking in the background; actually delivering a speech. What the ...
8
votes
2answers
699 views

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, ...
22
votes
8answers
3k 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 ...
19
votes
11answers
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 ...
11
votes
16answers
27k views

How long can a prologue be, and what should you not do?

A while back I wrote a prologue about the beginning of time and space and all that. One thing I noticed later is that between the prologue and the story itself, the prologue ate out the chapters not ...

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