A term you should NEVER use. Never ever.

While we’re playing grammar police, here’s a mistake I’ve seen many literary agents complain about (and many aspiring authors make): Using the term fiction novel.

It’s a novel. Why not a fiction novel? Because a novel is always fiction, so saying so is redundant. It implies that you don’t know what novel means. And of course you do, because you’re writing one.

Writing “fiction novel” in your query (or on your Web site or anywhere else) so turns off literary agents that many will trash your letter just for that reason.

Erase it from your vocabulary. Repeat to yourself, “I’m writing a novel. I’m writing a novel.” Whatever you have to do to forget that your fiction novel ever existed. Otherwise it will probably only exist on your laptop.

9 Responses

  1. I actually find it hard to believe that someone would use that term. Interesting.

  2. Interesting, thanks. I hope I haven’t used it….

  3. So true. I’ve found that even when I say, “I’m writing a novel,” people tend to ask, “Is it fiction or non-fiction?” and then I have to clarify for them anyway. These tend to be the same people who expect the book to be written, published, and best-selling after a month or so.

  4. I do know there’s a genre of non-fiction novels. Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” was considered one of the first. But I also get the response when I tell folks I had a novel published or I’m working on a novel: “fiction or non-fiction.”

  5. i haven’t heard anyone doing that but i can see why, since some part of the public just thinks novel means a book πŸ™‚

  6. Yes, this does fall into the category of hideously obvious redundancy.
    One would assume that the writer was an idiot and chuck the whole ms. —truly the right move, I think.

    The one that makes me quite mad is people with two daughters who say my eldest
    my youngest
    when the middle one doesn’t exist at all.

    Mosy interested in Africa.
    We were in Morocco for 2 years and loved it.

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