Welcome to Writing Fiction!


Have you ever wondered why people write? I mean, why bother? It’s hard work, it’s frustrating, and it’s sedentary when we should be riding our bicycles.

I can understand why we read, but why write?

It’s the most frustrating yet satisfying process I’ve ever experienced. And I write every day with part of my head in the story all the time.

Are you a writer? What do you write? Do you ever get discouraged? Do you read in the genre you’re writing in?  How does your reading influence your writing?

I guess what keeps me writing is that I lose myself. I can create another world—the world my characters live in. That alone is all-consuming.

How do you know where to start?

I suspect all relatively new writers experience the same problems. I started with short stories because they’re more contained. Then I just began my first novel. The characters came and the plot developed. Not everyone does it that way; in fact, most writers plot before they write. At least that’s what I’ve read. But here are a few things I learned that helped.

I try not to over explain things.

I show things rather than telling the reader about them.

I plot just enough to create structure for my story.

I try to avoid linking verbs and passive constructions. I use active verbs whenever I can.

I use dialogue and character description to reveal feelings and attitudes. For example, rather than saying Harry was always well-dressed, I say Harry wore a grey linen suit, a dove grey shirt, and a maroon tie with little anchors on it. He’d used a Windsor knot and had tucked a maroon handkerchief in his breast pocket.

I try to let the reader see my characters. So instead of saying Sally was scared, I say Sally stopped breathing. Her face went white, and her mouth opened in a silent scream. This way my reader gets to feel a bit like Sally.

Then there’s point of view. I still have trouble with that one, but generally I try to let one character dominate a scene. Everything is seen through his or her eyes, so the narrator sets the perspective on things.

I learned that dialogue needs contractions to sound right. Nobody says I have eaten more than I should. We all say I’ve eaten more than I should.

I often have to research stuff I don’t know enough about. I have to sound competent, but I don’t have to become an expert.

There are so many challenging aspects to writing fiction. Share your ideas! We can learn together!


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