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Questions asking for identification of a literary work (story, novel, poem, play, etc) or author, based on descriptive details provided within the question. Please be thorough and provide ALL of the details that you can remember when using this tag. (For questions seeking the original source of a known quote, use the [quote-source] tag instead.)

This is a catch-all tag for identification questions; it can be used for identification requests for novels, poems, short stories, collections, anthologies, comics, essays, anything else falling under this site's broad definition of "literature", books about literature, or writers.

This tag should be used by people who have read or heard of a piece of literature and can no longer remember its title. People using this tag should provide detailed descriptions of everything they know or can remember about the work being identified, to help those answering to identify it correctly. Please do NOT use this tag to ask for literature recommendations - it is meant to find known existing works. The description should be detailed enough that it can only describe ONE possible thing - if the same description could match multiple works, then the question may be closed as "Needs more focus" or "Needs details or clarity".

A list of details one should consider adding to their question includes, but is not limited to:

  • When did you read the story/poem/novel, etc., and how old was it?

    Did you read it 10 years ago? Last summer? "When I was in high school" is not descriptive. Try to provide a year range instead. Was it an old crumbling book or a fresh one? Did you see it in a magazine from the 1980s or on a website yesterday?

  • Medium and appearance

    What did the cover look like? Was it a thick book? A magazine? Short story collection? Novel? Maybe printed in a textbook? Was it an online story? Did it come with illustrations? In what style?

  • What else was in the collection?

    If the poem or short story was in a collection, magazine, or anthology of some sort, what do you remember about the other works in the collection? Brief descriptions of those will help with the search.

  • What language did you read it in, and was it translated?

    What language did you read the book in? This helps to narrow down the possibilities. In case you read a translation, you should also try to provide the original language the book was written in - this will significantly narrow down the search area.

  • Where did you read this story?

    Public library? Airport book shop? USA? Italy? Any of these will help.

  • What age range was this story for?

    Was it for toddlers? A middle grade novel? An adult poetry book?

  • Anything else

    Every little detail will help - do not omit anything just because you think it is insignificant. Even details that you are unsure of can be included, just with a disclaimer that you are unsure about them.

Don't just list all of these details in one giant paragraph. Walls of text are more difficult to parse, and may turn people away from trying to answer an ID question. Use paragraph breaks and lists as appropriate to break up the question.

Also, identification questions should have meaningful and descriptive titles. The title, ideally, should mention the distinctive points that would allow people who know the work to identify it immediately and cause those who don't to become interested in it. Titles like "Looking for a short story I read as a kid" are not helpful at all, but a title like Overpopulated world, where volunteers are being taken to be converted to food is much more descriptive and distinctive.

It will also be helpful for potential answerers if you describe what research efforts you have already undertaken and, if appropriate, any 'false positives' you came across ie. works which meet the general description but are NOT the one you are looking for. This will save other people duplicating your efforts and proposing works which you have already rejected.

Also, if someone posts an answer and it's not the work you're looking for, please comment on the answer and explain in what way the suggested work differs from the one you want. Please don't downvote an answer only because it misidentifies the work, because even wrong answers are helpful as they help track down the correct one by elimination.

For more guidance, refer to Guidelines for good story-id questions? on meta.