Practical Advice for Beginning Fiction Writers
by Maggie Thom
The key to any good story is the plot, the characters and the setting. It is so important to make sure that you are clear on where you want your story to go, where it takes place and when and who all the people are that you’re including. And then you need to make sure that you have conveyed that to your readers. The easiest mistake that writer’s make is that they have a very clear idea of their story and what they want to happen but they forget that their readers aren’t in their head and don’t have all the information that the writer does.
So for the plot, map it out. Put down all of the information as to what you want to happen in the story. Why is it happening? Who is it happening to? When does it occur? What is the reason for it? How does it all unfold? Who, what, when, where and how really are your best friends when plotting out your story. There are several ways you can do this but choose a way that makes sense for you. When you have it done, step back and think about it. Ask yourself, does it make sense? Is it believable? Are people going to understand why certain things are happening?
As for the characters it is so important to know them well. You need to know not only who they are but what makes them who they are. What is their life been like – where did they grow up, were they popular, what was there family life like, what’s their career, etc? What is their role in your story? How are they coming in to the story? When are they being introduced? What is their purpose?
The setting is also important but the degree that you explain the setting really depends on the type of book that you are writing. If it is a place that is familiar to people, than certain words can convey a very clear image – the pews were overturned, the delicate, brightly colored stained glass windows smashed… Most people would have a clear image of a church. However if it is someplace new, someplace different (i.e. a fantasy world) than you will have to include more information to help the reader be able to ‘see’ the place that you clearly imagine.
The next time you read a good book, one that you really like and it is the type that you are trying to write, look at what makes the book good. Look at the plot, the characters and the setting. It will help you to discover what the author did that made that story work so well.
The best thing you can do is to write. And write some more. And then share it with others. Get some feedback. Find out what is working and what isn’t. There is so much information out there, search it out. The only advice that you really need is to be open to learning and to keep writing.
What have you found has helped you the most on your writing journey?
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Genre – Suspense
Rating – PG13
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