You’re ready to write a great novel. You’ve already written down some ideas, some characters, and some locations that you’d like to include in your book. Now you’ve come to the point where you’re ready to sit down and pound out some words on your keyboard. These fiction writing tips for beginners will help you to create a concise story, stay productive, and get your novel ready for the publishing industry in the future.
It all begins with the story itself. If you’ve never written a lengthy story in the past [120,000+ words], then starting with an outline of what you want your novel to be is a good idea. This outline can take you through each key plot point you wish to make and help to give your story the linear consistency it needs.
Then you’re ready to consider these additional fiction writing tips.
#1. Keep a note of the key details of your characters separate from your novel. Whether it’s a corkboard, a whiteboard, or a sheet of paper with coffee stains on it, note down the key details of each character. Do they have black or blonde hair? Are they skinny or overweight? Are there freckles on their faces? Being consistent with your character descriptions will make the editing process a lot easier when you finish up the first draft of your story.
#2. Start your story with a great hook. Readers will judge the quality of your work within the first sentence or two of your story. That means you need to have a great first line. There are no rules that govern how you create this hook. You’ve just got to know who your target audience happens to be so that you can make that sentence relate to them while they get introduced to your characters.
#3. Balance your dialogue. Having a lengthy stretch of dialogue within a story can be difficult for a reader to enjoy. The goal of reading fiction isn’t to just be a third-party to a conversation that your characters are having. They also want to know what the thoughts and feelings of each character happens to be. You need to put your reader into the minds of each character so they can picture themselves as that character. Interject emotions, thoughts, and descriptions into your dialogue to help balance it out.
— John L. Fort (@tjlfort) May 21, 2016
#4. Watch out for repetition because it will drive your reader’s crazy. Writers all have a certain style with which they are comfortable. They also tend to use the same descriptors when crafting a fictional story. An example: In 50 Shades of Grey, the characters are described as “murmuring” nearly 200 times within the text. Be as specific as possible with each description that you are offering and then double-check for words that have been repeated often to give the reader some variety.
#5. Let the story tell itself sometimes. Having some structure for your story is a good thing when you’re first getting started with a fictional book. It can also cause writers to create something that sounds rather inauthentic. Sometimes you just need to let the story write itself when you’re sitting down to type. Let the characters talk to you, engage with you, and tell you what they’d like to do. Feel their emotions and describe for those characters how those emotions change you.
#6. Set a goal for daily writing. Some authors have a goal to write 1-2 pages of double-spaced content every day for their novel. That’s only 250-500 words. Some writers can put out much more than that – say 5,000 words per day. Set a daily goal for writing that will push you each day, but not stress you out because it will take you 16 hours to reach that goal. This will help you stay on a good writing pace and inspire a surprising level of creativity if you take that goal seriously.
#7. All fictional worlds need to correspond to real worlds. Even if you’re writing science fiction or historical fiction, you as the author must make your created world be able to correspond with the real world in some way. Take, for example, how Harry Harrison names one of the planets in the Stainless Steel Rat series “Moolaplenty.” What does that name say to you as a description? It doesn’t interrupt the flow of the future world, but lets you as a reader get a glimpse of the attitude that people on that planet will have to a main character who is a Special Corps agent and retired interstellar criminal.
— Bruce Rubenstein (@rubensteinbooks) May 21, 2016
#8. Make sure that you’re willing to let your story end. We all become attached to the characters we create. We want to explore more of what their lives could be. Even when we come to a natural conclusion for our stories, there is this compulsion to keep going. Keep exploring. Keep seeking out new adventures. The fact is that we must be willing to let a story end because otherwise we’ll never be able to create a new story in the future.
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#9. Create a comfortable writing space. Forget about the advice that you’ll find that says you can write anywhere. You can write down ideas anywhere. A journal, a scrap of paper, or even a napkin at a restaurant all work to help you jot down ideas for your stories as they come to you. For the actual writing, however, you’ll need a specific workspace. Create a home office that has limited distractions. Create something comfortable enough to keep you occupied, but not so comfortable that you’d rather take a nap than write.
#10. Discover your own conversational style. Writing is ultimately about establishing a relationship. In order to do so, you’ve got to write in a way that sounds natural, even if you were to speak the words. That’s why it can be helpful to actually speak what you’ve written for the first few pages of a story. How it reads out loud is how a reader will “hear” the book in their mind. If the writing is awkward, then it will make the reader uncomfortable, and that can become a barrier to wanting to finish your story.
#11. Keep going. Writing will be difficult on some days. What you write might be some of the worst things you’ve ever read. This is part of a natural creative process. Keep going. Keep striving. If you feel like your creativity is blocked, then be creative in some other way. You could go on a photography expedition, paint something, or compose some music. Creativity inspires more creativity and will eventually improve your writing.
These fiction writing tips for beginners are just the start of the story creation process. Be prepared to edit your story, be willing to change elements when necessary, and be passionate about what you’re creating. When you can do this, you can create a masterpiece.