5 tips for writing a killer fiction novel (if you have no idea what you’re doing)

Writing is hard.

It’s hard to make the words go.

Especially when you have tons of spectacular, larger-than-life adventures all vying for attention, only to disappear when you finally get around to putting it down on paper.

If you can relate, don’t worry.

Anyone who’s ever tried to write anything (especially fiction) can relate.

What you write and how you write is unique to you, and your style is yours to own.

But if you’re just starting out, these are some tips that might be useful as you work.

 

Don’t kill your first draft

Your first draft is the most important part of writing your story. The first draft is just to make the story exist. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it doesn’t have to sound great. The first draft gets your story into the world for the first time. You can go back and fix it up later. Don’t give up on it when you re-read it and it looks like a clogged toilet. Finish it and just let it exist.

Get to know your characters

One of the most important aspects of your novel is the characters. The characters are who readers relate to, and if you have flat characters, they have nothing to hold on to other than plot, plot, plot. And as important as plot is, the characters are the ones who drive the plot forward. Spend time figuring out their quirks, what they love, what they hate. What do they look like? Do they walk funny? Do they have a lisp when they talk? Give them flaws, obsessions and everything in between. Let them make mistakes. Let them suffer the consequences. Give them scars. Let them carry the story forward, and the story will flow through them instead of making you force it out.

Know where you’re going

While you want the characters to carry the story forward naturally, know where you want them to go. It is your job as the writer to guide the story to its conclusion. You need to come up with a plot that both works with and challenges the characters. Have events that challenge the characters, push them to their limits, but let them grow. Build a plot that breaks your character down until they’ve reached the finish line. Plot and characterization go hand-in-hand, so make them compatible.

Choose your dialogue wisely

There are usually two categories of writers when it comes to dialogue – those who fill their story to the brim with it, and those who never let a single word leave their characters’ mouths.  But balance is key. What your characters say shows who they are, pushes the plot forward, gives information (but not too much), establishes the mood, builds tension and enhances the story all while making it seem natural. Easy, right? Wrong. But, as is true with all things, practice makes perfect. Picture what is being said in a real-life conversation and see if it sounds natural. Read it out loud. See if any outside gestures (like smirking, shifting weight, averting eyes) could help show what’s going on.

Write

 

Keep writing. Don’t stop.Yes, it is super tempting to simply edit what you’ve already written when you hit a wall. Don’t do it. Don’t. Keep writing. You have to get your story out there, and you can’t do that by constantly backtracking. Keep going, even if you don’t like where your story goes. Get your words out and finish your draft.

by Peyton Eisnaugle

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