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  • Writer's picturetrevorcarterva .

Tips for Writing Fiction

1. Analyze stories from other books.

2. Read a lot.

3. Write from the heart but use your head.

4. Take inspiration from real life.

5. Give your characters depth.

6. Use symbols and imagery.

7. Create subplots.

8. Leave room for the reader’s imagination.

9. Use descriptive words.

10. Edit, rewrite, and edit some more.


Let's take a look at each item in the list.

Analyze stories from other books.

Plot: Examine the plot's structure, identifying key plot points, conflicts, and resolutions. Consider the pacing and whether it keeps you engaged.

Characters: Analyze the characters' development. How are they introduced, and how do they evolve throughout the story? What motivates their actions?

Setting: Take note of the setting and how it influences the story. Does the author effectively create a sense of place and time?

Themes: Identify the themes explored in the story. These can be social, moral, or philosophical ideas that the author is conveying.

Narrative Style: Pay attention to the author's narrative style, including point of view, tone, and use of literary devices.

Read a lot.

This goes hand-in-hand with the first item in the list. By reading other writer's work, you can get an idea of how to write your work of fiction. I think it's a good idea to read books outside of the genre you're writing in.

Write from the heart but use your head.

The more emotional impact your writing has, the better it will be. It will also help you connect with the reader on a deeper level. When writing an emotional scene, get in touch with the emotions inside of you that you're attempting to convey with the words.

Take inspiration from real life.

Study other people. Listen to people talk. Think about some of the things that have happened to you in life and use that as a source of inspiration. Maybe you have a memory of time when something traumatic happened to you. Get in tune with that memory and try to experience the emotional impact it had on your life.

Everybody has a story. Most people love to talk about themselves. By listening to others talk about their lives, you could find some useful information for your story.

Give your characters depth.

I find it useful to create a questionnaire for my main characters. I like to know about the major events that have happened in their life. I also ask them personal questions: What's your favorite food? What's your favorite movie? What are your hobbies? What are your political views? Are you religious? What's the worst thing you've ever done to another person? What was your relationship like with your parents?

Use imagery and symbols.

Descriptive writing is essential for creating a visceral experience for the reader. Word choice is critical in my opinion.

For example, in "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a green light is a recurring symbol. It's located at the end of Daisy Buchanan's dock and is visible from Jay Gatsby's mansion. The light is symbolic of Gatsby's unattainable dream of a future with Daisy. It's just out of reach, across the bay, mirroring his belief that he can recapture the past.

In my story, Datura Serpentis, there is a circle of plants that grow which produce an insect that will one day infect humans and alter their DNA. The circle represents the perpetual struggle that all creatures on Earth face, the struggle for survival. It also represents wholeness/completeness.

Create subplots.

In fiction, a subplot is a secondary plot that runs parallel with the main plot of the story. They have separate storylines that are connected to the primary plot. They serve several purposes. For one, they can introduce new conflicts and tensions which adds layers to the story. This creates a new dimension in the story. If you only have the main plot, the story will be one-dimensional.

Leave room for the reader's imagination.

It's good to be descriptive but being too descriptive can kill the reader's imagination. Create some mystery about a scene or a character. Let the reader put the pieces of the puzzle together. This can be accomplished by creating suspense.

For example, if you have a scene where a character enters a dark forest where some monster lives, and that monster kills them, you don't have to tell the reader all the gory details. Instead, you may choose to only mention that the screams of the character echoed throughout the forest as they met their end.

Use descriptive words.

I mentioned descriptive writing before, for creating a visceral experience for the reader. Descriptive words are essential for helping the reader visualize a scene or a character.

For example, if you're describing the inside of a cavern, you could write: They entered the dark cavern with flashlights. A better way to describe it might look like this: With flashlights beaming across the dark expanse, they could see the rocky cavern walls and a dome-shaped ceiling.

Edit, rewrite, and edit some more.

Rarely, if ever, does a writer strike gold on the first draft. I approach the first draft as a work-in-progress. Once the first draft is complete, I'll go back through several times, performing different types of edits. The first edit might involve checking for grammatical issues. The second edit might involve examining the dialogue. And on and one it goes.

I also find it useful, after writing the first draft, to set the manuscript aside for a couple of days. I can think pick it back up with a fresh set of eyes, so to speak. This helps me get a different perspective. I also find it useful to create a PDF version of my manuscript to read. For some reason, it helps me see things I wouldn't normally see when looking at my Word document. Strange but true.

I hope you found this article helpful.

Happy writing!

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