Writing is a skill. This means it can be improved with regular practice. This is what the best writing exercises for fiction writers are designed to do. Spend a few minutes every day with the following exercises and you’ll begin to see a noticeable improvement in the stories you’re able to create.
Exercise #1: Good Vs. Evil
Every good fiction story needs a good guy and a bad guy – or girl. In literary terms, this means you’ll need a protagonist and an antagonist. How these characters come together to battle will often become one of the most important components of your fiction.
This means each character needs to have depth to them. Protagonists aren’t always going to be 100% good. Antagonists might not be completed evil.
To develop this depth, try creating two characters that are in conflict with one another. Do not identify who you consider to be good or bad. Just describe the characters, establish their personalities and traits, and then develop a short backstory for each one.
When you can apply these steps to your main characters, then it will become easier to apply them to the secondary characters of your story as well. This will then help to make your fictional world become much more realistic to the reader.
Exercise #2: Know Your ABCs
When the plot for a story is developed, it will typically be offered to a reader in three acts: the setup, the confrontation, and finally the resolution. This is referred to as the ABCs because each must follow the other in a logical order, like in the English Alphabet B always follows A or C always follows A and then B.
For this exercise, determine a conflict you’d like to see two or more characters have. Bring this conflict to a climax somehow where all of your characters feel tension from the confrontation. Then create a resolution which is meaningful to everyone in some way.
Here’s an example: your character finds out their spouse is having an affair. The confrontation occurs when your character takes the spouse’s phone and demands an explanation for pictures and notes on it. The resolution could then be your character filing for divorce, deciding to forgive, stabbing the spouse in the eye with a lipstick container – whatever you as the writer would feel would be right as a logical resolution to what has happened previously.
Exercise #3: Put Your Theme into a Park
Themes are broad ideas that seem to hover like a puffy cloud in a blue sky. They are somewhat defined, but can also be moved around or have their shape changed quite easily. As a writer, you need to give your theme some definition. This is what it means by putting it into a park.
Think about what a theme park has to offer. Many different rides, experiences, food options – lots of walking – and it all has one general theme. You go to Disneyland to experience Disney-owned characters. Your fiction should have readers come to experience your brand of creativity as well.
So develop your favorite characters and describe why they are your favorites. Create locations that lend to the development of your characters. Use emotions to keep your story moving forward. Remember to show your readers what is going on instead of always telling them what is happening.
Here’s an example.
Showing a theme: The sky was dark. The air smelled like rain. I felt good. Really good. I was also excited because I’ve always liked the night.
Telling a theme. Shadows disappeared in the fading light. It smelled like the mountains do after a storm. My heart began to beat a little faster and a smile crept onto my face. My body let loose an involuntary sigh. Perfection.
You want your reader to embrace your theme instead of listening to your lectures. You want them to imagine your characters in the same light you do as a fiction writer. By showing the reader what you see, then their eyes will be opened up to the thematic elements you’re attempting to share.
Practice Each Fiction Writing Exercise Daily
Now you don’t need to fully develop characters, have complete backstories finished, and create an in-depth theme every day. You do need to work on these elements every day, however, for your fictional worlds to become reality. That’s what these three key writing exercises for fiction writers are intended to provide.
And there will be days you don’t feel like writing. Ignore that feeling. Staple your pants to your chair and get to work. Be consistent with your implementation and you’ll notice an improvement in your writing skills in a very short amount of time.