“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
– George Orwell
Writing fiction is difficult work. Prolific writers might be able to make the process look easy, but don’t be fooled. It can be a lengthy, painful process that will make you want to give up at some point during the creation of your story. Armed with these tips for writing a fiction novel, however, can make the struggle seem a little less difficult.
#1. Incorporate yourself into the story in some way.
The best stories come from an authentic place. They have moments of truth woven into the fabric of the story so that a reader can picture themselves in the world you’ve created. Draw upon your own experiences and conversations and you’re crafting the plot or writing dialogue so that the words seem very real. When you’re writing about something that you know, you’ll also find that it’s a lot easier to write.
“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” – Virginia Woolf
#2. Treat your fiction novel as a job you’ve got to do.
Philip Roth said that “The road to Hell is paved with works-in-progress.” Stephen King said that “The road to Hell is paved with adverbs.” Both are correct. Writing a book is a job. Let’s not fool ourselves. If you sit at a computer to write for 4 hours per day, it takes a toll on your body just like any other job would. When your mindset approaches writing in this way, it makes it a lot easier to defeat procrastination or writer’s block that might come your way.
#3. Let the story tell itself sometimes.
When you read “How-To” books on writing fiction, you’ll often be given the advice that you should outline your story before you write it. Have a list of characters and their traits. Know the major plot points you want to include. That’s solid advice… but it can also be the wrong advice. Sometimes you need to let the story evolve as you’re writing it. Let the characters be real in your mind and write what you see them doing in whatever situation they may find themselves. Discover the narrative instead of trying to create it.
“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” – Doris Lessing
#4. Set a specific daily goal that you can reach.
Some writers like to put in 500 words per day on their novel. Other writers like to produce 1,500 words per day, but only work every 2-3 days on the story. For the record: that’s about the same level of overall productivity. Find your comfort zone when it comes to writing and then create an output that works with it. Whether you write 5,000 words when you sit down to compose or you write 500, what matters is that you’re writing with a purpose.
#5. Keep reading.
Sometimes the best inspiration comes when a writer is reading the work of someone else. Some writers feel like this is “stealing” from the other writer, but getting a creative idea while being exposed to other creative ideas isn’t stealing. It’s inspiration. The temptation to avoid books, especially when you are writing one, can be very strong. Conquer that temptation. Set aside 30 minutes every day to read something. Just make sure you aren’t copying what you read.
“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.” – Larry L. King
#6. Find your descriptive voice.
Writers are painting pictures for the imaginations of their readers. Far too often, unfortunately, writers attempt to be too brief in their descriptions. Now you can go overboard and write three pages of text about a canyon a character may have found as well. Find a happy medium between being too brief and being too wordy.
For example: “The sunset was beautifully orange. It took my breath away with every glance.”
That’s nice, but it could be better. Try this adjustment.
“The sunset painted itself on the water’s surface in a beautiful orange hue. The glow reminded me of the late night tuck-ins my mother used to give me. Just as her kiss on my forehead would make me feel loved, this sunset took my breath away because Mother Nature made me feel just as loved.”
Your descriptive voice adds depth to the scene and to the character involved at the same time. Bring people into your world and it will cause them to not want to put your story down.
Writing a fiction novel is one part creativity, one part sweat equity, and one part evolution. Find your voice, tell your story, and let your world create itself around the plans you’ve put into place. You’ll find that this is a very effective way to write fiction when you can put all the pieces together.
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