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Anyone can sit down and start writing fiction, but not everyone can sit down and start writing good fiction. Learning how to write fiction is an art form that takes a lot of patience, practice and determination (it also is nice to get a little help, which is where we come in). Here are 5 fiction writing tips to help you improve your craft.
Also, we’re offering up this FREE download, LITERARY DEVICES AND TERMS, where you’ll learn 26 key elements of fiction that all authors need to know. From hyperbole to conceit to metonymy and more, this list of terms and definitions is easy to read and will help you get a better understanding fictional writing. Download it for FREE at the website.
1. Start with tension
Time and time again you’ll hear fiction writers and instructors tell you to start with action. This is flawed advice. Why? What good is the action if it isn’t grounded in context that’s important to the story or draws you to the main character? It’s better to start with tension, like a character falling short on getting something he wants—can’t save the life of a loved one, can’t beat a rival in a race, etc.
2. Know what your characters’ wants are
Interesting stories come from characters who want something. Romeo and Juliet want each other. Harry Potter wants to beat Draco Malfoy and Slytherin in Quidditch. Hannah Baker wants the people who led her to commit suicide know how they hurt her. Writing a fiction book requires that you have compelling characters, and characters who have strong wants and desires are the most compelling kind there are.
3. End each chapter on a cliff
OK, you don’t have to end each chapter on an actual cliff, but you do need to leave them with unanswered questions. This doesn’t mean you can’t answer questions during the book, it just means you need to create new ones as you go along. Be creative. Fiction is built on the curiosity of readers. If you don’t spark their curiosity (especially at the end of a chapter), what incentive do they have to start the next one?
4. Give your characters obstacles
The obstacles can be as difficult as you want (and should be pretty darn difficult to help spice up the story). But the key here is that they have to be able to overcome the obstacle no matter what it is—drug addiction, in love with a person who’s on the antagonist’s side, etc. Fictional writing is strongest when characters face tough odds and still come through in the end.
5. Understand your audience
Are you writing a fantasy novel? A crime novel? Erotica? Fiction genres are different and are told in different ways, so audiences of each have different expectations that you need to cover. For example, if you’re writing crime fiction, you have to reveal what happened early and spend the novel solving the crime (and the whodunit). If you’re writing a thriller, your story is dedicated to characters trying to stop whatever it is from happening.
Take these tips to heart when writing fiction. A guide to narrative craft (like the free download available here) can really help give you a better understanding of how to write a fiction book. And you don’t have to stop there. There are great fiction writing websites that offer fiction writing ideas; you just have to poke around the Internet for awhile to locate them. Or you can turn to any number of books on writing fiction (many of which you can find here).