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Feedback Q&A on Fiction Writing

by Ron Kurtus

Readers have sent in a total of 25 comments and questions on Fiction Writing issues. They are listed according to date.

You can read them to further your understanding of the subject.

List of most recent 10 letters




Fiction Length Paperback spine labeling USA
Resources Suggested resource USA
Resources Suggested resource USA
General Writing about an unjust war Nigeria
Artificial Gravity Science fiction on artifical gravity USA
General What are the basics of writing a screenplay? Ethiopia
General Should I self-publish or try with a name publisher? USA
Owl Creek Bridge Explanations of lines in Owl Creek Bridge story Bangladesh
Elements of Stories Can you have more than one antagonist? USA
Elements of Stories Tell a story with a monkey and two children India

Next 10

Paperback spine labeling

Topic: Fiction Length


January 11, 2017

I am trying to find out what is the correct "spine labeling" for a paperback book? Sould it just be "Fic, Mar" or should it be "Fic, PB, Mar"?

Linda - USA



If you are publishing a fiction paperback book, you should include the title, author, and publisher on the spine. See Book Cover Elements.

I assume "Fic" means fiction and "PB" means paperback, but I don't think you necessarily need that on the spine. Look at various paperbacks in the bookstore to get an idea of what is needed.

Best wishes for success in your writing.

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Suggested resource

Topic: Resources


September 26, 2016


I would like to share with you "Grammar Guide: Improve Your Spelling, Punctuation and Writing" - .

I would greatly appreciate if you could add this guide to your website page with grammar resources

This would help to spread the guide among wider audience.


Carol - USA



Thanks for the suggested resource. I added a link at Fiction Resources and Writing Resources.

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Suggested resource

Topic: Resources


August 23, 2016

Hi Ron,

I came across your site when I was doing a bit of research on indie publishing and I wanted to get in touch. I'm part of the team from Reedsy, an online community of authors, editors, and designers.

One of the links in your Fiction Writing Resources is a broken link to Wizard4Word (it currently directs to a page in Japanese script). The current URL for that site is

Could I also suggest our own Reedsy Book Editor for this section? It's a free web-based tool that has a much more intuitive interface and it exports professionally-formatted books in both EPUB and print-ready PDF formats.

If you'd care to share it with your readers, the URL is here:

All the best and keep up the great work,


Martin - USA



Thanks for letting me know about the broken link. I fixed and also added a link to your Reedsy Book Editor in Fiction Resources as well as in Self-Publishing Resources.

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Writing about an unjust war

Topic: General


April 15, 2014

I wish to write about an unjust war,an ethnic cleansing, the effects on a people, the re-writing of history to favor the victor, and the subsequent systematic oppressive rule by the government of the day. How do I go about this? I need a good plot/ plan. Please help.

Pascal - Nigeria



You have a very ambitious project. It is a historical novel.

First consider and describe your main character or hero of the story. He is living in a country where there is an unjust war. State who are the leaders of this war. They can be the villains or bad people in your story. What is the reason they want war? Greed? Hatred?

Ethnic cleansing or eradicating other groups are events that affect both the soldiers and victims. There are many personal stories that you can include. Likewise for the other events.

My suggestion is that you break things down into small stories that you can weave together at a later time.

For example, you could have a short story about how there had been a war and the hero's side won. They elected a new leader, and everyone seemed happy. But then the new government started making changes and became corrupt and as bad as the previous one. The hero is jailed but escapes and starts the process over by fighting the new villains.

I hope these ideas help. Best wishes for success in your writing.

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Science fiction on artifical gravity

Topic: Artificial Gravity


November 12, 2012

Greetings, I am a science fiction writer, and I'd like to postulate a hypothesis for your notions and feedback. If one were to create a form of crankshaft that spins energy through magnetic coils in a spiraling circuit, allowing for hyper-acceleration of particles for the production of anti-matter, similar to what is used in super-colliders, and this tube structure itself were to be spinning, further increasing the momentum of the charged particles generated within, could this spinning collision device be used to both produce anti-matter and generate artificial gravity if used in the core of a large space ship? Furthermore, this anti-matter could be funneled to one end of the cylinder and recombined with positive matter for propulsion. If this hypothesis were to hold true, would it not reduce the amount of mass needed to generate gravity, and allow for better streamlining of a space vessel, since it would also be generating fuel for propulsion?
Alternatively, if a circular super-collider were to be used for the outer rim of a disc-shaped vessel, could it's function in accelerating matter at beyond light speed alone create the momentum needed for artificial gravity, while again producing anti-matter which could be used as fuel for propulsion?




You've got some complex ideas.

For some reason, most matter in the Universe is right-handed and has certain charges. Anti-matter is simply a particle with the opposite charge and perhaps spins in a left-handed direction. Radioactive decay and high energy collisions can result in antiparticles being emitted.

See Antimatter and Antiparticles.

Also so-called artificial gravity is simply caused by inertia. It has been used many times in science fiction.

Some better topics to consider are dark matter and dark energy. They are only theory but explain many things in the Universe. It is a good topic for science fiction, since you can almost create your own special properties from these items. For example, if someone could convert to dark matter, he would be invisible to normal people.

Best wishes in your writing. Keep in touch on your progress.

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What are the basics of writing a screenplay?

Topic: General


November 23, 2011

I want to know the basics of writing a screenplay

fikre - Ethiopia



A screenplay is very similar to a stage play, where you have separate paragraphs that describe action and when the characters are talking. Check Screenplay Format to see a sample.

Also look through the references at: Screenwriting Resources.

Best wishes in learning to write a screenplay.

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Should I self-publish or try with a name publisher?

Topic: General


September 21, 2011

I've written an adventure book. Should I self-publish it or try with a name publisher?

Harry - USA



For your fiction book, it is always good to first send query letters to publishers as well as literary agents, especially those specializing in adventure novels. However, if you cannot find interest in your book, self-publishing is a good option. Many self-published e-books have become best-sellers.

Best wishes in success in publishing your book.

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Explanations of lines in Owl Creek Bridge story

Topic: Owl Creek Bridge


November 2, 2010

1.what is the explanation of this line: there was something uncanny in the revelation(part III)
2. "the sergeant stepped aside"(part I)-explain the line

fahmida - Bangladesh



1. Peyton Farquhar thought it was strange that he had never noticed the thick forest and peaceful surroundings, since he had lived there for a long time. Of course, these were thoughts in his mind as he was dying.

2. The men stepped aside to let the plank, so that the person they're would fall and become hanged.

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Can you have more than one antagonist?

Topic: Elements of Stories


August 15, 2010

Is it usually a good idea to have more than 1 antagonist for a created story or will it hurt defining the origins of the characters?

Dylan - USA



Having a number of antagonists can add depth and excitement to a story. It gives the protagonist more challenges to overcome.

Consider an adventure story where the hero must overcome a number of different villains and rivals. Or a romantic story with one or two rivals, as well as others opposed to the romance.

Cleverly defining the characters is then part of a good story structure.

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Tell a story with a monkey and two children

Topic: Elements of Stories


July 12, 2009

Could you tell me a plot of a story which has a monkey and two children as the main characters

Saptarshi - India



You need to define the hero and the problem.

You could have a story where the monkey is the hero, saving the children from a burning building (the problem). The story can start with the parents disliking the monkey, who seems to cause trouble. But in the end, he is the hero and everyone likes him.

Or, you could have the monkey as the problem, and the children are the heroes. The monkey can be always stealing things and causing trouble, but he is too clever to get caught. Finally, the children get a plan to trick the monkey and capture him. Everyone is happy that the monkey is captured.

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