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Writing Tips for Fiction Writers

Writing a story is an undertaking that allows your imagination to run wild. You will create characters and perhaps even build worlds. There is no definitive list of rules you should follow for fiction writing but there are several techniques to help you with you write better and craft a great story. Great fiction writing takes dedication and hard work, but there are methods to make the whole process easier.

1. Be proud of your story: You may have a list of story ideas waiting to be fleshed out, but the chances are there is one you are most interested in. Start writing that story. Many authors do their best writing when they’re deeply invested in their characters and plot.

2. Hold information back from the readers. When writing fiction, only give readers the information they need at that moment. Use Ernest Hemingway’s iceberg theory: this is to show your readers just the tip of the iceberg. Supporting details, like backstory unless it contains vital information, should remain unseen in the same way the mass of an iceberg lies under the water’s surface. This theory prevents readers from getting overwhelmed with information and lets them use their imagination to fill in the blanks.

3. Write simply. An example of this is Shakespeare’s line, “To be or not to be?” It is famous for its brevity and the way it describes a character’s struggles with their own life. Of course, there is a time and place for bigger words and denser text, but often you can get points in your story across in simple sentences and language. Try to use succinct language when writing, so that every word and sentence has a clear purpose.

4. Use different types of writing. To become a better writer experiment with different types of writing. If you are a novelist, work on a short story. If you write fiction, think about writing nonfiction. You might even try more casual writing by blogging. Each piece of writing that you do has a different point of view and different style rules that will help you develop your writing skills.

5. Write every day. Most writers develop a regular writing habit. This means that they dedicate time every day to the craft of writing. Some writers do this by assigning themselves a daily word count. For example, Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day. Alternatively, you could consider joining a writing group. It is a great motivator to have to show your work to other writers. Do not worry if what you write is technically bad writing, or even if you struggle to get something onto a blank page. Some days will always be more productive than others but the more you write the easier it gets.

6.Set targets. The average word count for a book is 75,000 words. That makes novel writing intimidating. If you are working on your first novel, one way to stay motivated is by setting targets. This will help you break the book down so it is easier to manage and easier to complete.

7. Understand story structure. Professional writers understand the outline stories follow. It takes them from exposition and rising action through to the climax and falling action. It may help to create an outline to map your main plot and subplots on paper before you get started.

8. Learn character development techniques. There are many effective ways to create interesting characters in literature and character led stories are usually the most interesting. As a writer be aware of the character information you are revealing to increase tension in your story. Your main characters should have a backstory that informs their actions, motivations, and goals. Be careful about the point of view (POV) and whether you are writing in the first person or third person to disclose your character’s interpretation of events.

9. Use the active voice. Your goal as an author is to write a page-turner. That is a book which keeps readers engaged from start to finish. To do this use the active voice in your stories. The passive voice is not always a bad thing but try to limit it in fiction writing.

10. Take breaks when you need them. Writer's block can happen to any writer. Step away from your desk and get some exercise or do something different. This will get your blood flowing and when you are in a different environment, that in itself can generate new ideas. You can write again later in the day or even the next.

11. Kill your darlings. One piece of advice for writers that is often repeated, is to know when words, paragraphs, chapters, or even characters, are redundant within the story. You must develop the ability to edit out excess information.

12. Read other writers. Reading widely will help you find your own voice and hone your own writing skills. Read a variety of genres and writers, but also read the same genre as you write. If you are writing a thriller, then read other thrillers and mysteries. These will show you how to build tension, create plot points, and how to do the big reveal at the climax of the story.

13. Write to sell. To make a living doing what they love, fiction writers need to think like readers, editors and publishers. This requires you to approach your story with a marketing sensibility as well as a creative one. This will help your book to sell.

14. Write now, edit later. Do not be tempted to spend a lot of time editing and rewriting as they write. To avoid this, practice freewriting. It is a creative writing technique that encourages writers to let their ideas flow uninterrupted. You can set aside time to edit later.

15. Get feedback. It is not possible to critique your own writing. When you have finished a piece of writing or a first draft, give it to someone else to read. Ask for honest and specific feedback. This is a good way to learn what works and what does not.

16. Think about publishing. Authors do not write for themselves. Think about who your target audience is and where you want your story to be published. If you have written a short story, think about submitting it to magazines. However, a novel might be sent to literary agents or publishing houses. Alternatively, you might consider self-publishing if you want to see your book in print quickly. However you decide to do it, Let's Get Published.

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