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  • What Is a Fiction Writer and How to Become One

fiction writer define

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What does a fiction writer do, how to become a fiction writer.

A fiction writer’s job is to write books, stories, plays, and other content to be published in a variety of mediums. While this role is most commonly associated with novel writing, authors also write fiction for other mediums like video and roleplaying games. Fiction writers often have varying titles based on the industry in question; common titles include playwright, scriptwriter, and narrative designer. As a fiction writer, you create materials of a variety of lengths, ranging from single-page stories to full-length novels and screenplays. Other aspects of this job vary. For example, you may work entirely from home on your own schedule, or you may work collaboratively in an office with a team of other designers and creators.

The primary qualifications for becoming a fiction writer depend on the type of writing you want to do. While some people can succeed by writing a manuscript and convincing someone to publish it, most publishing houses prefer to see published work so they can judge the likely financial success of your manuscript. Other fiction writing positions usually require a bachelor's degree and several years of writing experience. Many fiction writers self-publish or work on small-scale projects to gain experience before applying for a position at a larger company. Fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of this career requires the ability to adhere to deadlines, exceptional writing skills, and the ability to incorporate feedback from editors.

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Fiction Writer

Education and Training: Varies—see profile

Salary: Varies—see profile

Employment Outlook: Fair

Definition and Nature of the Work

Fiction writers compose short stories, plays, and novels using imaginary characters and events. Ernest Hemingway , Toni Morrison , J. K. Rowling, Sandra Cisneros , Steven King, and John Grisham are noted fiction writers.

Writers generally work alone. They may write on assignment for a specific publication or complete a story, play, or book and submit it to a publisher for possible purchase. If they sell their ideas for stories or books to editors before they begin the actual writing, they can avoid putting a great deal of time into writing a piece that might be difficult to get published.

Some books are written by several writers under the direction of an editor. Only the very best writers can support themselves solely by writing. Many fiction writers teach. Some novelists and playwrights may earn extra money by writing for magazines and newspapers.

Fiction writers often do research before they begin to write. If their books or stories are based on past or current events, they must know the facts on the subject. They do research in libraries and interview people who have the information they need.

Education and Training Requirements

There are no formal educational requirements for fiction writers. Most have learned about writing by writing—they write for many hours a day, practicing and perfecting their skills and techniques. Writers also spend a great deal of time reading the works of other writers, which gives them ideas on subjects to use for stories or books and exposes them to different writing styles and techniques.

Individuals interested in writing fiction professionally should finish high school and, if possible, attend a good liberal arts college with a highly rated English department. During their college years, students should refine their research skills and take a variety of literature courses to ensure a broad exposure to many authors and writing styles. Courses in creative and expository, or nonfiction, writing are also helpful to prospective fiction writers. Some writing professors have had their own works published; their experience and knowledge may benefit students as well.

Students can gain practical writing experience in high school and college by writing stories and submitting them to the school's literary magazine or by working on the yearbook or newspaper.

Getting the Job

Fiction writers generally begin by submitting short stories to magazines. Few publishers take a chance on a long work by an unknown author. By reading directories such as the Literary Market Place and magazines such as Writer's Digest , and by talking to someone who is a professional writer, beginners can get some idea of what markets are open to them. Magazines usually have their own style and look for stories written in that style. Serious writers should try to interest a literary agent in their work—publishers usually pay more attention to manuscripts submitted by an agent. Fiction writers who have no agent should submit the manuscript themselves.

Government and private foundation grants are available to good writers. Fiction writers with proven ability who are working on a time-consuming project such as a novel can apply to the National Endowment for the Arts, for instance, for grant money to support themselves while completing their work.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Fiction writers consider themselves successful when their books or stories receive good reviews in magazines and newspapers and when their work is studied in colleges and universities . Many writers have stories or books published but do not make enough money to support themselves.

Fiction writing is a highly competitive and growing field. However, authors often have difficulty earning a living solely by writing.

Working Conditions

Fiction writers have very individual writing habits. Most authors set aside a certain number of hours each day for writing—they try to write during these hours despite illness or lack of ideas. Other authors write only when they feel inspired, and then they may write for twenty-four hours at one time. Research for a particular project might result in travel.

Writers often have to write in their spare time if they hold other jobs. They generally enjoy writing so much that they do not mind doing it in their free time.

Earnings and Benefits

A fiction writer's earnings depend on where their work is published, the type of writing they do, and, in some cases, the length of the piece. Beginning writers may have a hard time finding a publisher for their fiction. They usually work in another field to subsidize their writing. Once a writer gets published and garners critical and commercial attention, it becomes easier to attract the interest of magazines and publishing houses. The more interest authors can generate, the better contract offers they will receive.

Where to Go for More Information

International Women's Writing Guild P.O. Box 810, Gracie Station New York , NY 10028-0082 (212) 737-7536 http://www.iwwg.com/

National Writers Association 10940 S. Parker Rd., #508 Parker, CO 80134 (303) 841-0246 http://www.nationalwriters.com/

National Writers Union 113 University Pl., 6th Fl. New York , NY 10003 (212) 254-0279 http://www.nwu.org/

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. P.O. Box 877 Chestertown, MD 21620 http://www.sfwa.org/

Publishers often sign contracts with well-known writers to publish books before they even see the finished manuscript. These contracts generally offer writers advances, which are sums of money paid before publication. Bestselling novels can make their authors very wealthy, although most writers who sell novels and plays can barely earn enough money to support themselves. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income of fiction writers—taking into account the starving artists and the successfully published—was $45,460. Since almost all fiction writers are freelance writers, they must provide their own health and life insurance and retirement plans.

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Opposites for fiction, origin of fiction, synonym study for fiction, other words from fiction, words that may be confused with fiction, words nearby fiction, words related to fiction, how to use fiction in a sentence.

This is why GPT-3 shines when writing creative fiction , where factual accuracy is less of a concern.

Your write that language, like fiction , creates meaning where none existed before.

They’re probably all wrong to start with, and then we try and link those fiction s with other people’s fiction s.

Indeed, a lot of serious science fiction work aims to scare us away from less-than-palatable trajectories we might be considering, or have already embarked on.

Mulan’s entry into masculine spaces is celebrated, for example, because women embracing traits strongly associated with masculinity is celebrated in fiction .

The pulps brought new readers to serious fiction , making it less intimidating with alluring art and low prices.

There was a lot of prison fiction from movies and books to mine.

While politics tend to migrate toward the poles, humanity—and fiction , at its best—huddles in between.

The ghost writer in question is assumed to be one Siobhan Curham—an established author of both YA and adult fiction .

They hire other people to write their books for them, whether memoir or fiction .

A true history of the Merrill Horse, and the adventures of its different members, would read like the most exciting fiction .

Certainly The Cheats establishes her in my mind as our first writer of historical fiction .

One of the most humorous tales of modern fiction , combined with a very tender and appealing love story.

Ere joining the "Friends," she had been induced to give up, not only writing fiction , but reading it also.

It is a history full of instruction, and ever reminds us that truth is stranger than fiction .

British Dictionary definitions for fiction

Derived forms of fiction, word origin for fiction, cultural definitions for fiction.

Literature that is a work of the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact. Some examples of modern works of fiction are The Great Gatsby , by F. Scott Fitzgerald , and Lolita , by Vladimir Nabokov .

Definition of Fiction

In literature, fiction encompasses written works that are defined by narratives or stories that are created, invented, and made up by the writer. Essentially, fictional works feature elements such as plot , characters, setting , and theme . These elements can be literal, conventional, and follow formulas, such as in works of genre fiction. They can also be artistic, symbolic, and unstructured, such as in works of literary fiction. Fictional works primarily take the form of novels, novellas , and short stories.

For example, in Mary Shelley ’s  Frankenstein , the main character uses his scientific study of chemical processes and decay of living tissue to gain insight into the creation of life, thereby giving life to a creature of his own making.  As the reader accepts this version of fictional “truth,” they are immersed in the novel ’s world and impacted by the themes of natural laws and human interference, isolation, revenge, and societal responsibility.

Examples of Well-Known Literary Fiction Novels

Common examples of genres in fiction, what is literary fiction, what is genre fiction.

There are now seven major genres of fiction as given below.

Difference Between Literary Fiction and Genre Fiction

Examples of fiction in literature, example 1:  don quixote by miguel de cervantes.

It is one thing to write as poet and another to write as a historian: the poet can recount or sing about things not as they were, but as they should have been, and the historian must write about them not as they should have been, but as they were, without adding or subtracting anything from the truth.

Example 2:  A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel García Márquez

The news of the captive angel spread with such rapidity that after a few hours the courtyard had the bustle of a marketplace and they had to call in troops with fixed bayonets to disperse the mob that was about to knock the house down. Elisenda, her spine all twisted from sweeping up so much marketplace trash, then got the idea of fencing in the yard and charging five cents admission to see the angel .

Example 3:  Ragtime  by E.L. Doctorow

He was buried alive in a grave and could not escape, and had to be rescued. Hurriedly, they dug him out. The earth is too heavy, he said gasping. His nails bled. Soil fell from his eyes. He was drained of color and couldn’t stand. His assistant threw up. Houdini wheezed and sputtered. He coughed blood. They cleaned him off and took him back to the hotel. Today, nearly fifty years since his death, the audience for escapes is even larger.

Synonyms of Fiction

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Cambridge Dictionary

Meaning of fiction in English

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Examples of fiction, collocations with fiction.

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