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Fiction Writing: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
What Is the Definition of Third Person...
A definition of the literary term third person omniscient point of view as defined for fiction writers.
Fiction Writing: What Is the Third Person...
A definition of the literary term third person limited point of view for writers of short stories and novels. In third person limited, the narrator reveals the thoughts of only a single character.
third person point of view
A definition of the term third person point of view as it applies to the craft of fiction writing. Third person point of view may be limited or omniscient.
Types of Characters
Round characters, flat characters, stock characters . . . learn about all the different kinds of characters and what they mean for you as a writer and a reader.
Top 8 Tips for Writing Dialogue
These simple rules and obvious pitfalls are good to keep in mind when writing dialogue that advances the action of the story and builds the characters.
Punctuating Dialogue
Provides the absolute essentials for punctuating dialogue: the details that most clearly mark a beginner from a professional.
10 Questions for Creating Believable Fictional...
Creating complex, well-rounded characters takes time -- time spent thinking about how your characters look, where they're from, and what motivates them, for instance. The questions on this page provide structure to this all-important thought process.
round character
Chances are good that the characters you've most loved or appreciated in fiction are round characters. Find out what makes a round character dynamic and how you can create your own round characters here.
Top 10 Rules for Mystery Writing
The mystery, more than other genres, tends to follow standard rules, making it both easier and harder for the mystery writers. Whether you end up following them or breaking them, it's important to at least know what they are.
flat character
: A flat character is a minor character in a work of fiction who does not undergo substantial change
first person point of view
A definition of the literary term first person point of view as used by fiction writers.
Point of View
As a writer, you must choose which point of view will allow you to most effectively develop your characters and tell your story, but how do you make that crucial decision?
voice
: Voice has two meanings as it concerns creative writers: Voice is the author's style , the quality that
How to Write “You” Stories: Fiction...
A definition of the literary term second person point of view as defined for fiction writers.
How to Get Story Ideas for Fiction Writing
The truth about where great story ideas come from and how you can learn to generate more of them than you could ever use.
What is Figurative Language and When Should...
A figurative language definition for creative writers, students, and teachers from About.com's guide to fiction writing.
5 Rules to Writing a Great Short Story
To write a short story successfully, a number of elements have to come into play. Read about each of these elements and learn how to employ them in your short stories.
Examples of Third Person Writing from Classic...
If you're still a little confused about what third person writing looks like in prose, learn from these classic fiction examples.
A Breakdown of Theme for Creative Writers
: A theme is the central idea or ideas explored by a literary work. John Gardner puts it this way: "By
How To Start Writing in the Third Person
In a rut with the first person? It's common for beginning writers to avoid writing in the third person initially, but some stories benefit from the freedom it allows you. This exercise will help you rewrite a story in the third person.
Top 10 Small Literary Magazines and Journals
Looking to start submitting your fiction to literary magazines, but unsure of where to begin? These ten journals are prefect for beginning the process. All are well-respected, but also open to work by new authors.
Cover Letter Advice
Submitting creative writing for publication is not that different from applying for a job. You want to put your best, most professional foot forward, starting with your cover letter. How do you achieve this?
protagonist
The protagonist is the main character in a story, novel, drama, or other literary work, the character that the reader or audience empathizes with. The antagonist opposes the protagonist. In the most simple narratives, this boils down to bad guy vs. good guy: Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vadar.
unreliable narrator
tk. Fiction Writing.
style
: Style, to a fiction writer, is basically the way you write, as opposed to what you write about (though
Top 10 Tips for Overcoming Writer's Block
Most writers have trouble with writer's block at some point in their careers. Fortunately, there are many ways to start writing again.
Submit to the New Yorker
Founded in 1925 by Harold Ross, the New Yorker continues to be one of the most venerated publishers of short fiction. As such, it has helped make the career of writers such as John Updike, Haruki Murakami, Raymond Carver, Janet Frame, Salman Rushdie, and Alice Munro.
character
Definition of the word character as used by writers of novels, short stories, and other fictional works.
How to Publish Short Stories
Learn how to publish short stories in journals and magazines, from formating your work to weathering rejection.
Writing Exercise: Genre Twister
A quick, fun writing exercise to help you come up with a ton of story ideas in no time.
static character
: Static characters are minor characters in a work of fiction who do not undergo substantial change or
Sample Short Bios for Literary Journals
If you're not sure what to write for the short bio in your cover letter to a literary journal -- perhaps because you don't have any publications yet -- these samples from published writers will get you started.
Ten Short Story Ideas
The hardest part about writing is finding original short story ideas. These exercises and prompts will give you a jumping-off point to get unstuck.
Creative Writing Prompts
Need a starting point for your creative writing session? Try these creative writing prompts.
dynamic character
Chances are good that the characters you've most loved or appreciated in fiction are dynamic, or round, characters. Find out what makes them dynamic and how you can create your own dynamic characters here.
How to Write (and Finish) a Novel
There are no hard and fast rules for getting from first draft to bookstore shelf, but these tips on how to write a novel will help you find your way.
How to Pitch Your Novel
How to craft and deliver a killer pitch of your novel that will have them begging to read it.
Metaphor Examples
Metaphor examples are easy to find, both in great literature (and not-so-great literature) and in everyday speech. These examples of both will help you make the most of this writing tool.
Figurative Language Quiz
Figurative Language Quiz From Ginny Wiehardt ,Your Guide to Fiction Writing .FREE Newsletter. Sign Up
Jane Austen: Get the Particulars
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How to Find a Literary Agent
Finding a literary agent can be one of the hardest steps in getting your book published. This how-to breaks the process of finding an agent into manageable tasks.
symbol
Definition of the literary term, symbol, as used by writers, and in literature and art.
magic realism
The term magic realism describes contemporary fiction, often from Latin America or the third world, whose narrative blends magical or fantastical elements with reality. Magic realist writers include Gabriel García Márquez, Alejo Carpentier, and Isabel Allende.
point of view
: Point of view is the perspective from which a story is told; the narrator's position in relation to
antagonist
An antagonist is one of the central characters in a piece of fiction, key in providing a source of conflict upon which the plot may turn.
All About Harper Lee
For the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, we're taking a look at the author's life and her most important work.
Top 4 Ways to Know Your Idea is Novel-Worthy
If you're going to commit years of your life to a project, you obviously want to be sure that it's worth it. So how do you know if your idea is novel worthy? A few questions will help you decide.
Basic Plot
While some writers have absorbed or were born with a sense of how to tell a story effectively, most study the elements of plot and pay serious attention to how to successfully construct a narrative. Here's what to keep in mind.
stock character
Stock characters draw from widely known cultural types for their characteristics and mannerisms, and are often used in parody. Every culture has its own set of stock characters.
Fiction Writing Profile About American Author Avi
Avi's Background: Avi was born Edward Irving Wortis in 1937 in New York City and was raised in Brooklyn,
Developing Your Writing Style
Your writing style evolves naturally over time through reading and writing, but here is a list of things to keep in mind as you develop it.
allusion
An allusion definition for creative writers, students, and teachers from About.com's guide to fiction writing.
plot
: Plot concerns the organization of the main events of a work of fiction. Plot differs from story in
Types of Figurative Language
Metaphor and simile are the two most common examples of figurative language, but figurative language also includes other types. Read more here.
Publications for Young Writers
Are you a teenager or pre-teen who's ready to publish your work? Magazines from Stone Soup to Teen Ink are taking work from young writers now.
How To Avoid Too Much Back Story
Does your fiction tend to get bogged down in back story? Are you unsure of how to stay in the present with a piece? This exercise will help you learn to create forward-moving fiction.
Writing Action Scenes
Action scenes aren't just for espionage or fantasy novels: almost every story will have some sequences in which the characters are doing things. How do you get the action right? These tips will help.
How To Employ All Five Senses in Creating Your...
Many writers swear that setting is the most important element of any fictional work -- that story and character grow out of setting. Here, you will devote some time reflecting on your story's setting.
Pictures to Use as Writing Prompts
Choose one of these photographs as a writing prompt for your next free writing session. By using an image you did not take, you are more likely to free associate.
Create Your Own Metaphors
Spending just a little time on metaphors and similes can spur you to make better use of them in your writing. This exercise designed for poets works for fiction writers as well.
mystery novel
: Mystery is a genre of fiction in which a detective, either an amateur or a professional, solves a crime
Use Metaphors Correctly
When used correctly, metaphors are effective fiction writing tools, but like most literary devices, metaphors bomb when used incorrectly. Learn about the two most common traps to avoid when using metaphors in your fiction writing.
Photographs as Writing Prompts
Pictures, and especially photographs, carry with them implicit narratives, making them ideal writing prompts for generating new short story ideas.
Short Story Contest Deadlines Month by Month
Keep up with short story contest deadlines with these monthly calendars, and find information on fellowships and residencies.
bildungsroman
: A bildungsroman is a novel that traces the development of a character from childhood to adulthood,
How to Get Published: A Quiz
How to Get Published: A Quiz From Ginny Wiehardt ,Your Guide to Fiction Writing .FREE Newsletter. Sign
Jane Austen: 22 Particulars
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How To Use Freewriting to Get Short Story Ideas
Freewriting is one of the best tools for generating short story ideas. It is a simple writing exercise that can be done anywhere and requires a minimum of time. The only thing free writing does require, in fact, is a pen and paper. Even the willingness to let go is provided by the exercise.
metaphor
Used correctly, metaphors can be a powerful tool for fiction writers. Used incorrectly, however, metaphors only confuse and distract your reader.
Top 7 Signs Your Short Story Wants to Be a Novel
How do you know if a short story is really a novel? These six signs will help you evaluate whether or not to expand your short story into a novel.
episodic novel
: An episodic novel is a narrative composed of loosely connected incidents, each one more or less self-contained,
Publishing Company Profiles
When you're ready to publish your novel, you'll want to start with the big publishing companies: Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, etc. Learn a little bit about each one before you start this process.
Story Starters
Almost everyone could use a little help in filling a blank page from time to time. Use these story starters, contributed by readers, to launch your writing session.
figure of speech
Figures of speech are imaginative, non-literal ways of using language that will make your prose stronger and more effective when used properly.
Ten-Minute Creative Writing Exercise
If you think you don't have time to write, think again. See what you can produce with a simple set of writing prompts and ten minutes of your time with this creative writing exercise.
detective story
: The detective story is a genre of fiction in which a detective, either an amateur or a professional,
Literary Magazines to Note
Are you starting out with the process of submitting work to literary magazines and journals? The first step is familiarizing yourself with the market. This list will help you begin.
Short Story Editing Checklist
Before you show your story to anyone, make sure that you've caught at least the obvious spelling and grammar mistakes using this comprehensive editing checklist.
Know Your Theme
A different way of examining theme in fiction and how knowing yours can improve your writing.
epistolary novel
: Strictly speaking, an epistolary novel is a novel whose story is told through a series of letters.
What Do Editors Mean by a "Short Bio"?
The idea of writing a “short bio” to go along with their submission to a literary journal can be daunting. This is what editors are looking for.
Add Description to Your Writing
Many writers struggle with description, but it's a necessary element of vivid prose. How can you add description to your writing? These tips will help you get details on the page.
climax
: A climax is a moment of great intensity in the plot of a literary work, generally bringing events to
Creative Writing Exercises
Sometimes the hardest part of writing is coming up with something to write about. These exercises and writing prompts will help you generate new short story ideas.
Books for Beginning Writers
With so many books for writers out there -- particularly for the beginning writer -- it can be hard to know where to start. These reviews of some classic and recent books for writers will help you decide which ones are right for you.
Hands: A Creative Writing Exercise in 5 Steps
This creative writing exercise begins with a description prompt and then leads writers through a series of seemingly unrelated steps, resulting in original and surprising associations.
How to Write Fiction
Want to learn how to write better? If you have a willingness to work at it, you can learn to write anything, including fiction. Start by reviewing these basic components.
Examples of Metaphor from Everyday Speech
We don't have to look very far to find examples of metaphor . From expressions like "raining cats and
Make Time to Write
For most of us, making time to write will always be something of a struggle. With friends and family, financial obligations, and emotional issues all vying for our attention, it takes determination to make a writing schedule and stick to it. I've come to the conclusion that there is no easy answer, but there are concrete things we can do to make time to write.
story
The definition of story, as a literary term, is the full sequence of events as we imagine them to have taken place, in their natural order and duration.
How To Use Modifiers More Effectively
While modifiers -- adjectives and adverbs -- can add to a story, too many, or the wrong ones, can bog down your prose and lead to weaker nouns and verbs. This writing exercise, by forcing you to hold off on modifiers altogether, will challenge you to choose your nouns and verbs more carefully.
conflict
Conflict is the heart of any plot. The conflict can be between the protagonist and another character, the antagonist; between the protagonist and nature; or the protagonist and society. It can also be an internal or psychological conflict.
dialogue
: Dialogue is a conversational passage in a narrative or play used to advance the plot or develop the
How to Use Facebook to Promote Your Book
Begun in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook can do more than connect you with long lost friends: for many writers, it's an essential PR tool. Find out why you should have a Facebook page and learn how to set it up.
The Truth in Fiction
How do you make fiction read like non-fiction? How can you make your fiction believable? Advice for writers.
Top 11 Gifts for Writers
Having trouble selecting gifts for writers in your life? Want something that shows support, but is more creative than a generic pen and pencil set? With a little thought, you can choose a gift that your friend will cherish. This guide will help you get started.
simultaneous submission
: A simultaneous submission is the submission of the same short story or other piece of writing to more
Profile of American Short Fiction
A quarterly magazine, American Short Fiction strives to discover and publish new fiction in which transformations of language, narrative, and character occur swiftly, deftly, and unexpectedly. This profile provides all the information you need to submit your work to ASF.
simile
Simile, like metaphor, is a type of figurative language used by fiction writers to convey an image or idea to the reader.
personification
Personification, a common figure of speech along with simile and metaphor, is used in prose and poetry as well as in everyday speech.
Tips on Writing Dialogue
Let the story unfold naturally when writing dialogue. You don't have to let the reader know everything up front, and you can trust the reader to remember details from earlier in the story.
How to Choose a Genre for Your Novels
Advice for writers on when and how to choose a genre to write in.
Learn to Write from the Masters
While books on writing have a lot to say about the writing process, many valuable skills and strategies can be learned by studying the work -- as well as the lives -- of writers you admire. Writing fiction is a complex process: it requires a suitably nuanced course of study. In the same way, the answers to many questions about how to lead a writer's life can be found in the examples set by successful writers.
Small and Independent Press Profiles
If you're ready to try small presses with your novel, these profiles will give you an idea of what each press is like and how best to approach them.
Thoughts on the MFA
Tips for choosing an MFA program in fiction writing.
denouement
: The denouement refers to the resolution of the complications of a plot in a work of fiction, generally
Writers' Rooms in NYC
Famous for attracting writers and infamous for exorbitant rents, New York City has more writers' rooms than any other American city. The Writers Room created the model when it opened in Manhattan in 1978, and similar spaces have sprung up in the city since then, offering space and community to the city's many writers.
How to Write a Novel
With regard to writing a novel, there's no one-size-fits-all approach, which is why we decided to ask our readers for their advice on how to write a novel. Our article on the topic offers one perspective, but it wouldn't strike home with everyone, at least not for all aspects of the process.
How to Write Realistic Dialogue
Your first draft of a story may be messy, with a lot of unnecessary words and phrases. You'll probably
Review of The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
Since 1992, The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron's guide to achieving a more creative life, has helped countless artists and writers to uncover the reasons for their creative block and then implement a habit to overcome it.
Using Dialogue Tags Effectively
Veering too much from "he said/she said" only draws attention to the tags. While readers tend to read
Historic Literary London Walking Tour
If you're a fan of English-language literature, few places are as full of literary landmarks as London, home to everyone from Shakespeare and Milton to Virginia Woolf and T.S. Eliot. This literary London tour points out just a few of the many places where you can commune with your literary heroes.
Are You Ready to Publish?
Before beginning the process of trying to get your fiction published, it's important to know whether or not you're ready. These five questions will help you evaluate whether or not you're ready to embark on that stage of your writing life.
Creative Writing Exercises for Craft
No matter what stage you're at with your writing, it's always beneficial to work on craft and technique. These creative writing exercises target common problems and weaknesses.
Getting the Best of Your Writer's Block
The possible reasons for writer's block are myriad: fear and anxiety, a life change, the end of a project, the beginning of a project, harsh criticism, big success…almost anything, it seems, can cause writer's block. Fortunately, there are just as many ways to beat it.
How to Write Faster
Tools, tips and techniques to write fiction faster than you ever have before.
May Writing Contests
Find information on writing contests for the month of May, including website urls, contest deadlines, and fees.
Reading Like a Writer
Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them instructs writers in the art of close reading, showing them how it can help them improve their own work.
chapbook
: Though the OED says that a chapbook is "a modern name applied by book-collectors and others" to literature
Publishing Advice from Jeanette Perez
Jeanette Perez offers writers seeking to get their novels and short story collections published advice culled from her time in the editorial department of HarperCollins Publishers.
epigraph
Though an epigraph may also be found marking buildings or monuments, they have a specific function with regard to creative writing.
What Can We Learn from Stephenie Meyer?
Whatever you think of her books, Stephenie Meyer has built the kind of devoted fan base other writers only dream of. What can we learn from Stephenie Meyer in writing our own books?
Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
A review of Stephen King's book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, a funny and practical look at the secrets behind King's prolific career.
Five Tips to Avoiding Total Disaster as a...
Kris Saknussemm, author of Zanesville: A Novel, offers his advice on making it as a novelist.
Listening for Dialogue
For many writers, writing natural-sounding dialogue is one of the hardest parts. This little exercise helps you develop an ear for the way that people really talk.
How to Research Literary Agents
Before you can begin to query literary agents, you first have to know a few things about them. A little research will help you address them professionally and ensure that you get reliable representation.
Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket
An interview with Daniel Handler, the man behind the popular Lemony Snicket books, A Series of Unfortunate Events, which follow the orphans Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, and author of three books for adult readers.
How to Break Up Dialogue with Action
These examples illustrate how to ground your dialogue in the physical world with action and description.
Storyteller Exercise
This imaginative exercise inspired by one in Julia Cameron's The Right to Write, encourages writers to listen for story ideas.
Revision Checklist
While you can't catch every mistake yourself, this revision checklist will help you make sure you've checked your work for the obvious pitfalls before sharing it with someone else.
How To Use Secrets to Find Short Story Ideas
It's sometimes hard to come up with original short story ideas. This game involving secrets helps writing students discover new inspirations for their short stories.
euphemism
Euphemisms, used in dialogue, can be helpful tools for the creative writer. This definition will help you make better use of them.
What is a Writer's Platform?
While writers are often told to build their platforms as soon as possible, it's not immediately obvious what that means. This article will run down the major components of a solid writer's platform and how to get started building yours.
hyperbole
: Hyperbole, a type of figure of speech , uses exaggeration or overstatement for emphasis. Mark Twain
pun
: A pun is a play on words, often humorous, that uses words that have similar or identical sounds but
Creating an Idea Box
An idea box is one way to ensure that you always have a stock of ideas for your creative writing.
A Writing Space of One's Own
What do you do when you don't have adequate writing space? Ideally we'd all have that room of our own, but sometimes that's just not an option. But space should never keep you from writing. Read here for suggestions on how to overcome space issues.
Writers' Rooms
Since the Writers Room opened in Manhattan in 1978 to provide urban writers with a place to write, a number of similar spaces have opened up around the U.S. and abroad. Though it doesn't guarantee the proverbial room of one's own, it does offer a cubicle and some community.
April Writing Contests and Awards
Calendar listing writing contests, awards, fellowships, and residencies with April deadlines. Information includes website urls, contest deadlines, and fees.
Action Writing Example
In action writing, the pacing of your writing is part of what conveys the action. What does this mean? Find out with this example.
hard-boiled detective novel
Definition of the literary term, hard-boiled detective novel, for writers of mystery and detective fiction. Hard-boiled detective novels typically feature a professional detective as opposed to an amateur sleuth.
Why Conflict Matters
Conflict is the basis of plot; without conflict there's no growth or change. In short, there's no story. What do you need to know about conflict as a writer?
Interview with Alicia Erian on "Towelhead"
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Your Mother Creative Writing Prompt
A teacher of mine once used this creative writing prompt with good results. In it, you use a common phrase to jumpstart a freewriting session -- and hopefully a story or poem.
Query Letter Dos and Don'ts
The query letter is your one-page chance to win over a literary agent. How can you be sure you're getting it right? This list of dos and don'ts will help you strike the right tone.
Things Lost and Found Creative Writing Prompts
These creative writing prompts encourage you to delve into two of the most fertile topics for writing. Spend some time writing today -- it only takes a few minutes to get started.
Cover Letter Example
Middle-grade novelist Berniece L. contributed this example of a cover letter she sent for her first novel.
Submit Work to the Claremont Review
The Claremont Review publishes high-quality poetry, short stories, and short plays by writers aged 13-19. Learn more about submitting your creative writing to them.
Description Writing Exercise
Having trouble with description? It's something most writers have to work at. This writing exercise gives you the opportunity to practice this aspect of craft.

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