5 Tips for Writing Fiction


Angel at Kerepesi Cemetery in Budapest, Hungary, http://www.carolineallen.com

It’s more difficult to sum up writing fiction than it is writing memoir. Fiction can be too amorphous, too soulful, to be forced into linear alignment. However, there are a few guidelines you can follow for writing good fiction.

1. Start with character. Spend time really getting to know the peoople in your story, their childhoods, relationship with siblings, connection with parents, current love life, hopes and dreams and greatest flaw. The better you know the characters, the more the fiction will write itself.

2. Don’t forget setting. Many new writers put their characters into white space. Color in the setting, add texture and don’t forget weather. How does the landscape echo the people in your story? How does it clash with your characters? I perceive setting as another character in the story, and know it needs to be developed as deeply and richly as I develop the protagonist.

3. Use “telling” details. The entire story should be written with vivid description using all the senses, but you should also focus on certain telling details. Use telling details around objects that provide some metaphor, some deepening of the theme. For example, in one of my stories, Antique Clock, I described the protagonist’s collection of old clocks, and their different chimes, as a way to represent getting older and “losing time”. What object in your story could be used for telling details?

4. Sharpen your dialogue. Write dialogue in rough draft, then go back in and see how many words you can cut. Perhaps you can cut whole sections of the dialogue. Watch how sharp and focused the dialogue gets when you do this. Remember, fiction is drama and not real life, so don’t necessarily think you can write dialogue exactly how people speak. It needs to be “dramatized”.

5. Remain in a consistent Point of View throughout the story. POV is hard for new writers. Make sure you’re clear what point of view you’re writing in, and keep it consistent. Whose mind can the reader enter, fully knowing their thoughts? Whose eyes are we seeing the action through. It’s fine to have several POVs, just make sure they’re clear and consistent. Nothing gets a story or novel rejected by publishers more quickly than misunderstandings around POV.

I’m a writing coach and can guide you on writing your novel. Contact me for a free initial consultation. http://www.artofstorytellingonline.com

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