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What topics can I ask about here?

Before asking a new question, please look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question.

Unfortunately, we haven't been around for that long and therefore don't have an authoritative definition of what is and what isn't on-topic. Philosophers have spent centuries debating what literature is. In some circles, the definition of literature has been politicized to exclude certain cultures. We're still trying to find our place in the world of Literature.

However, we can give an incomplete list of topics that we mostly agree are on- and off-topic. Keep in mind that this list is incomplete; if your question isn't here, then you should try asking it on the main site and seeing what happens. Also keep in mind that this is not an authoritative document; should community consensus change, then the advice here could become out of date.

Topics that will most likely be considered on-topic include:

  1. Questions about how to interpret a specific scene, quote, theme, plot point, etc., or otherwise analyzing a work of literature.

  2. Specific questions about the publishing process, literary conventions, or tropes in literature.

  3. Story and quote identification questions: if you can't remember a story or a quote, we can help you. Please be as detailed as possible when asking these questions.

What counts as a work of literature for the purposes of allowed questions on this site? We don't have a specific answer—we're still trying to work this out—but questions have been successfully asked about written stories, comic books, plays, and poetry.

Topics that will most likely be closed as off-topic include:

  1. Questions about the English language in general, not just as it relates to literature or specific works of literature. Try asking on the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange or English Language Learners Stack Exchange instead.

  2. Questions about creating literature yourself—you may want to try the Writing Stack Exchange.

  3. Questions asking for literature recommendations: try our chat rooms or a different literature website instead.

If your question is not specifically on-topic for Literature Stack Exchange, it may be on topic for another Stack Exchange site. If no site currently exists that will accept your question, you may commit to or propose a new site at Area 51, the place where new Stack Exchange communities are democratically created.