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Fiction Writing: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
Definition and Sample of Third Person Point of...
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.
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.
8 Best 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.
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.
The Correct Way to Punctuate Your Dialogue
Nothing marks a beginning writer faster than improperly punctuated dialogue. Learn the rules.
What You Need to Know About Characters as a...
Round characters, flat characters, stock characters . . . learn about all the different kinds and what they mean for you as a writer and a reader.
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.
Fiction Writing Vocabulary: What Is a Flat...
: A flat character is a minor character in a work of fiction who does not undergo substantial change
Fiction Writing Vocabulary: What Is a Round...
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.
5 Rules to Writing a Great Short Story
Short-story writers generally follow, consciously or unconsciously, a standard list of rules For example: Use few characters and stick to one point of view.
How to Submit Your Short Story to "The New...
Founded in 1925 by Harold Ross, the magazine is one of the most venerated publishers of short fiction. Submit your story as a PDF using their online form.
How to Choose the Right Point of View for Your...
As a writer, you must choose which point of view will allow you to develop your characters and tell your story most effectively.
What Is First Person Point of View?
A definition of the literary term first person point of view as used by fiction writers.
How to Get Story Ideas for Your 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.
Examples of Third-Person Narrative in Classic...
If you're still a little confused about what third person writing looks like in prose, learn from these classic fiction examples.
How to Rewrite Your Story 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.
What Is the Definition of Voice for Creative...
Voice has two meanings in fiction - the author's style, and the characteristic speech of a first-person narrator.
How to Write “You” Stories: Fiction...
A definition of the literary term second person point of view as defined for fiction writers.
10 Practical 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.
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.
Residencies that you may not have heard of...
Free and off-the-beaten track writing residencies.
How to Write a Cover Letter for Your Literary...
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?
How to Get Your Short Stories Published
Learn how to publish short stories in journals and magazines, from formating your work to weathering rejection.
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.
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
What Is a Character in Fiction Writing?
Definition of the word character as used by writers of novels, short stories, and other fictional works.
How to Write ( and Actually Finish) Your 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.
What Is a 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.
Month by Month Deadlines for the Various Short...
Keep up with short story contest deadlines with these monthly calendars, and find information on fellowships and residencies.
Submitting to a Literary Journal? Use These...
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.
10 Ways to Discover New Ideas for Your Short...
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.
What Is a Dynamic Character?
A major character in a work of fiction who encounters conflict and is changed by it
4 Best Ways to Know Your Book Idea Is Good
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.
Figurative Language Quiz
Figurative Language Quiz From Ginny Wiehardt ,Your Guide to Fiction Writing .FREE Newsletter. Sign Up
What Is Style for Creative Writers?
Definition of the word. Fiction Writing.
How to Pitch Your Novel to Agents and Publishers
How to craft and deliver a killer pitch of your novel that will have them begging to read it.
How to Find the Right Literary Agent for You
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.
Elements of Basic Plot for Beginning Writers
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.
What Is the Definition of a 'Static Character'?
: Static characters are minor characters in a work of fiction who do not undergo substantial change or
What Is an 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.
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.
Tips to Keep in Mind While Developing Your...
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.
10 Creative Writing Prompts That Will Jumpstart...
Need a starting point for your creative writing session? Try these creative writing prompts.
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.
Lee Houck on fiction, poetry, and Dolly Parton!
An interview with writer and publisher Lee Houck.
August Short Story Contests
Information on book and short story contests, along with details about awards, fellowships, and residencies with August deadlines for fiction writers.
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.
point of view
: Point of view is the perspective from which a story is told; the narrator's position in relation to
14 Best Literary Magazines
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.
July Short Story Writing Contests
Find info on book and short story writing contests, fellowships, and residencies with July deadlines here.
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.
Photographs as Writing Prompts
Pictures, and especially photographs, carry with them implicit narratives, making them ideal writing prompts for generating new short story ideas.
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.
5 Top Agencies Looking for Your New Fiction
Top agencies representing literary fiction
plot
A definition of the literary term,
What Is the Definition of a Symbol in Creative...
Definition of the literary term, symbol, as used by writers, and in literature and art.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How To Employ All Five Senses in Creating Your...
An exercise to help writers use all five senses to develop a story's setting, which some swear is the most important element of any fictional work.
Best Way to Use Pictures 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.
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.
22 Facts to Help You Understand Jane Austen
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Fiction Writing Vocabulary: 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.
Hurry up! You only have until August to submit!
Information for Indiana Review Half-K Prize
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to Get Published: A Quiz
How to Get Published: A Quiz From Ginny Wiehardt ,Your Guide to Fiction Writing .FREE Newsletter. Sign
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.
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.
6 Types of Figurative Language You Can Use in...
Metaphor and simile are the two most common examples of figurative language, but figurative language also includes other types. Read more here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Testing a New Novel or Short Story Idea
Robert McKee, in his book, Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting, has
metaphor
Used correctly, metaphors can be a powerful tool for fiction writers. Used incorrectly, however, metaphors only confuse and distract your reader.
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.
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.
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.
All Monthly Writing Challenges
Each month from September to May, the fiction writing site at About.com supplies a monthly writing challenge and posts reader responses. Read the challenges from past months and submit a response to the most recent writing challenge.
How to Choose a Genre for Your Novels
Advice for writers on when and how to choose a genre to write in.
How to Write Realistic Dialogue
Alfred Hitchcock once said that a good story was
mystery novel
A definition of the term mystery novel, the characteristics of mystery novels and the rules of the genre.
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.
Have you considered publishing with a small...
Submissions for Bellevue. Fiction Writing.
Know Your Theme
A different way of examining theme in fiction and how knowing yours can improve your writing.
What Is an Allusion?
An allusion definition for creative writers, students, and teachers from About.com's guide to fiction writing.
climax
Definition of the literary term climax as it relates to a work of fiction.
Using Dialogue Tags Effectively
Veering too much from. Fiction Writing.
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.
Genre Twister: A Fast and Fun Way to Generate...
A quick, fun writing exercise to help you come up with a ton of story ideas in no time.
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.
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.
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.
simile
Simile, like metaphor, is a type of figurative language used by fiction writers to convey an image or idea to the reader.
You don't have to abandon your life to get the...
Low Residency MFA Programs for People who Work
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.
How to Break Up Dialogue with Action
These examples illustrate how to ground your dialogue in the physical world with action and description.
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.
dialogue
Definition of the word. Fiction Writing.
epistolary novel
Find the definition of the literary term
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.
Cover Letter Example
Middle-grade novelist Berniece L. contributed this example of a cover letter she sent for her first novel.
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.
simultaneous submission
: A simultaneous submission is the submission of the same short story or other piece of writing to more
episodic novel
A definition of the literary term,
Getting the Best of Your 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. Page 2.
personification
Personification, a common figure of speech along with simile and metaphor, is used in prose and poetry as well as in everyday speech.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Writing Contest Tips
The good news about writing contests is that only a small percentage of entries are both competently written and follow the rules. How do you make it into that small percentage? Read on.
Cover Letter Advice
See how one anonymous poet approaches her cover letters. Short and sweet, but also effective, her cover letters take very little time to craft and yet say what needs to be said in a straightforward, professional manner.
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.
September Short Story Contests
Keep up with important fellowships, grants, short story contests, and residencies with this calendar for the month of September.
What You Need to Know About HarperCollins
Find out about submitting your fiction to HarperCollins, one of the five biggest publishing companies in the United States. Includes some of the press's history and includes a link to an interview with fiction editor Jeanette Perez.
Examples of Metaphor from Everyday Speech
We don't have to look very far to find examples of metaphor. From expressions like
denouement
A definition of the literary term.
What is the truth in fiction?
How do you make fiction read like non-fiction? How can you make your fiction believable? Advice for writers.
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.
Five Tips to Avoiding Total Disaster as a...
Kris Saknussemm, author of Zanesville: A Novel, offers his advice on making it as a novelist.
How to Write Faster
Tools, tips and techniques to write fiction faster than you ever have before.
bildungsroman
From the German for formation novel, or education novel, a bildungsroman is a novel that traces the development of a character from childhood to adulthood.
How to Find a Writing Class
A writing class is one of the best ways to find a writing community, but how do you find a class or a teacher you know will be worthwhile? These tips will help you begin your search.
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.
One-Syllable Words
A creative writing teacher named Daisee sent in this writing exercise, which she learned from one of her students.
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.
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.
First Line Story Starters
Often all you need is the first line to fill a page. These story starters, meant as opening phrases, were offered by readers as their favorite story starters.
pun
Do you agree with Samuel Johnson that punning is the lowest form of humor?
Creating an Idea Box
An idea box is one way to ensure that you always have a stock of ideas for your creative writing.
All You Need to Know About NaNoWriMo
Every November, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, spurs writers all over the world to write -- or at least attempt to write -- an entire novel in one month. Sound crazy? You don't know the half of it.
How to Submit to the Paris Review
Founded in 1953 in Paris by Harold L. Humes, Peter Matthiessen, and George Plimpton, The Paris Review has become a legend among literary people. It's perhaps less well-known than The New Yorker, but more intellectual, and perhaps even more prestigious.
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.
How to Be a Writer
What makes a person a writer?
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.
detective story
A definition of the literary term,
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.
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.
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